The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

After 30 years as a learner and leader in higher education, I can honestly say that Convocation is still my very favourite time in the academic calendar. 

Celebrating our students as they walk across the stage, watching the joy on their faces as they receive their credential, and knowing they’re about to launch their careers is a privilege; no matter how many fall and/or spring ceremonies I attend, it never gets old.  Given the significance of the event for our graduands, their families, and our communities – every ceremony we host must reflect the very best of Sheridan. 

To that end, I want to initiate a dialogue about our current practice – what’s working and what we might contemplate changing.  Up for discussion is everything from the venue, to the format, length and who speaks.  To get us started, a small group and I drafted a list of guiding principles that I want students, faculty and staff to review and reflect on: 

  • graduating students will be the focus of all Sheridan convocation events;
  • ceremonies will embrace diversity, equity and inclusivity;
  • to the extent possible, universal traditions associated with post-secondary graduations will be embraced;
  • convocation will be both the culmination of the student experience and the beginning of that graduate’s lifelong relationship with the College as a member of the alumni community; and,
  • Sheridan will work to balance ceremonial efficiency with celebration.

Let me know what you think of our principles at president@sheridancollege.ca

To further enrich our discussions, we need to gather input from those at the heart of the Convocation experience.  To that end, a short survey went out to recent graduates last week; a survey to faculty will launch soon. We’re also looking at best practice models and interviewing leaders from other institutions in Canada and the United States.  All of this data will be presented in a report with recommendations to PVP – the Vice Presidents and I – in April with changes to be implemented as early as June, 2019.  Rest assured that I’ll keep you posted about what we’re contemplating, why, and on what timeline. 

I hope you’ll take a few minutes to share your views because this really matters; Convocation is a reflection of Sheridan’s character, a celebration of our commitment to quality, and central to our accountability.  Few ceremonies hold as much pride and significance for our students, and for all of us at Sheridan.  As always, drawing on our collective wisdom and creativity will ensure that we continue to get it right.