Vice-Chancellor update - July 2018
Well, that was amazing! And just a bit exhausting. Three days of Graduations made me so proud of our University - the amazing students and their lovely families, the great venue and music, the sense of occasion that we manage to generate. Most of all, proud of the work that we all did to pull each ceremony off with so much panache. I kept thinking of the Newton Park swans and cygnets – paddling hard but looking so serene.
I know how much it means to our students to see folk they know on the platform and throughout the venue on Graduation Day. I also know how tiring it is, and the disruption it causes to everyday work. It is absolutely worth it, for us as staff, as well as for them, but there is a cost, and I am grateful to all those involved who made the commitment to be there.
And during a heatwave! As students crossed the stage to shake hands, I could feel the sweat running down my back. I was only on my feet for a couple of hours, lots of colleagues were up and about for the full 12 hour days. We are looking into air conditioning for next year so that none of us is working in quite that heat.
Some special moments from the ceremonies stick in my mind. Here are the bits I keep thinking about:
- Giving out tickets for row I, only to find that the seating went straight from row H to row J!
- Our Chancellor, Jeremy Irons, and Registrar, Chris Ellicott, leaving the stage to present the degree certificate to a disabled student, who received a special cheer.
- The incredibly dignified poise of the families of Henry Burke and Louis Harris as we presented their posthumous degrees.
- Howard Skempton’s profound and profoundly moving speech as he took his honorary doctorate – and his comment that if Richard II had done a music degree with us he would have had a much better life!
- The first ever Bob Dylan quote I’ve heard in a graduation speech.
- Managing to knock the hat off two of our students in one graduation ceremony.
- The students who just turned up, having omitted to book places, but were looked after anyway.
- The valediction from student Alexandra Taylor-Hay, which introduced me to the Paradoxical Commandments.
Those Commandments can sound a bit naff, but I think they are actually very profound. I keep thinking about this one: ‘The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow: do good anyway’. Whatever happens, I won’t forget the good we all did at this year’s graduations, and I look forward to doing it all again – in a cooler February.
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