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Convocation creeping closer

(May 18, 2000, Gazette)

Convocation marks an important milestone in the lives of students and their families.

Memorial’s upcoming spring convocation in St. John’s will also celebrate the 50th anniversary of the convocation ceremony at Memorial, which became a degree-granting institution in 1949 and conferred its first degrees in 1950. With this in mind, the university’s convocation planners have been intent on making the nine convocation sessions on May 24-26 some of the most special in the university’s history.

Students and parents alike will be treated to several interesting and memorable highlights.

A Viking millennium exhibition at the Arts and Culture Centre forced Memorial to move its annual spring graduation ceremony out of that venue for the first time since the early 1970s. Spring Convocation 2000 will take place at the university’s Physical Education Building gym, where it was held in the early years of the university’s life, a fitting venue given the 50th anniversary celebration of convocation.

Victoria Collins, director of University Relations, the department responsible for planning convocation, said people are working very hard to make this spring’s ceremony a special event for grads and their families.

“It is exciting to see months of planning finally come together in what will be a unique and memorable graduation ceremony,” Ms. Collins told the Gazette. “In addition to adapting the gym and Thomson Centre first floor for convocation, we have added some special touches on this occasion.

“Faculty who attended the first convocation on June 3, 1950, have been invited to participate in the opening session when Dr. David Pitt, professor emeritus, will share some reflections on that historic event. Graduates and their families will also be treated to a photographic display following the history of convocation at Memorial.”

In addition, Ms. Collins noted that the university has a distinguished roster of 11 honorary degree recipients including Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, his brother Michel and some of the founding members of CODCO.

Honourary degrees are awarded by Senate.

“Of course, having the prime minister as a guest on campus entails a lot of preparation,” Ms. Collins said. “Special arrangements need to be made for media and for security reasons. We are very appreciative of the campus community’s patience and co-operation with these arrangements.”

Among the academic highlights is the graduation of the first class of students in the new collaborative bachelor of nursing program offered through a partnership arrangement among the three provincial schools of nursing: Memorial University’s School of Nursing, the Centre for Nursing Studies and the Western Regional School of Nursing. Volunteers for convocation are being recruited from among faculty and staff.

Ms. Collins said that any member of the university community interested in helping out at the ceremonies should contact University Relations at 737-8663, or by e-mail at

The nine sessions of convocation in St. John’s will be attended by about 1,500 graduates and their families with three sessions a day, at 9:30 a.m., 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. The first session of convocation took place at Sir Wilfred Grenfell College’s gym in Corner Brook on May 5.

For further information about convocation, please visit