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C-3 Commencement and Academic Ceremonies Committee

The Commencement and Academic Ceremonies Committee continued the initiative begun last year to increase faculty participation in academic ceremonies, especially University Commencement. The goals of this initiative were three-fold:

 

To reflect symbolically the key role of faculty in the lives of students;
To engage faculty more fully in the life of the institution and its traditions;
To enhance the ceremony.


Last year, the committee solicited input from faculty to identify barriers to faculty participation in University Commencement and to generate ideas for encouraging participation. This year, working with Susan Clagett and the Office of Relationship Management and University Events, a series of discussions were conducted with deans and university administrators to explore ways to increase participation in University Commencement by removing barriers and providing incentives. The committee commends and thanks Susan Clagett and her colleagues for their resourcefulness, creativity, and effort related to this initiative.

The initiative resulted in the following changes to the 2003 University Commencement:

The role of faculty in University Commencement will be augmented and highlighted. For example, faculty will begin the ceremony by processing out of the Main Building and down the South Mall. Faculty will stand when their respective deans confer degrees upon the graduates of their colleges. Faculty seating will be changed and elevated so that faculty will be visible to the audience and will themselves be able to see the ceremony.
The Academy of Distinguished Teachers will be featured. They will lead the faculty procession and will be recognized in the opening part of the script. New members will sit on the stage and be introduced during the ceremony.
The University Co-op donated 50 sets of regalia to be distributed among the colleges to be used by faculty participating in commencement. Faculty will use the regalia free of charge.
President Faulkner and Provost Ekland-Olson asked the deans to have 15% of their faculties attend University Commencement.
Deans will drop by the pre-commencement dinner for faculty, which is hosted by President Faulkner and Dean Gau, to thank faculty for their participation.
Faculty will have priority parking privileges, and a free shuttle service will be provided.
Provost Ekland-Olson will send an e-mail to faculty members participating in University Commencement to invite them to the faculty reception and thank them for their participation.


Other ideas to be explored in the future include the following:

Subsidize faculty buying regalia at certain points in their career, such as upon receiving tenure, upon being inducted into the Academy of Distinguished Teachers, or upon receiving teaching awards.
Offer regalia as part of the compensation package for faculty teaching Freshman or Forum Seminars.
Provide childcare for faculty participating in commencement.
Provide designated seating for faculty guests.
Send a post-ceremony thank you letter to faculty participants.
Provide commemorative items for faculty participating in graduation (e.g., t-shirts, postcards with a photograph of Commencement fireworks).
Encourage new faculty to participate in University Commencement at the New Faculty Boat Ride, New Faculty Orientation, and at new faculty workshops.



Minette Drumwright, chair


This document was posted on the Faculty Council Web site, www.utexas.edu/faculty/council/ on August 20, 2003. Paper copies are available on request from the Office of the General Faculty, FAC 22, F9500.