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  • Writer's pictureRebecca Weaver

Comfort and Joy: Tips for Faculty Participating in Graduation

This is a recreation of a thread I did a few years ago; please feel free to add your suggestions!


Comfort

  1. You can buy a basic black gown online for around 150. If you’re not required to go through the school (faculty aren’t, but those graduating might be). You can design your own (I designed my hood to include my MFA and PhD schools/degrees) at websites such as: https://www.academicapparel.com/caps/doctoral-gown.html Here is my hood:

2. Buy a gown with pockets if you can, and/or wear clothes with pockets underneath!

3. Wear a button-up shirt: there's a string on the hood designed to loop over a button so the hood doesn't ride back and choke you.

4. Have a colleague get your hood to taper correctly behind you. Unless you've got hugely long arms, you can't do this yourself. Here is a good link for how it goes on: https://t.co/bgo7WxEoPL

5. Tuck your shirt well--when you sit down and unzip your robe, the hood string may yank your shirt up, causing you to flash people when you unzip your robe!

6. Your clothes don't have to be fancy--robes are VERY WARM! I'm wearing a short-sleeved seersucker shirt and shorts under mine, as I'll bike to the ceremony.

7. Wear comfortable shoes.

8. Be careful while walking, esp if your robe is a little long; you can run to hug a graduating student and trip! (true story)

9. Stuff to bring: water (I have a foldable water bottle with a hook that attaches to a belt loop: https://vapur.us/collections/anti-bottles), phone (pics of you and colleagues or you and students in your grad gear are pretty cute), snacks (in case you get hungry during a long ceremony), tissues.

10. If you’re sitting on the stage, all this gets trickier. At my school, the faculty sits in the first few rows below the stage. But deans, etc. often have to sit onstage. So maybe be very stealthy about that water/snack/phone.


Joy

  1. Be in the moment. Yes, there’s other stuff including grading or gardening or whatever you could be doing. But at my school (a two-year access institution) graduation is NOT a given. It’s a BFD. Enjoy it. This is me with my colleague Prof. Gossett in 2023:


2. Be prepared for the processional, where the audience stands as the faculty processes (slowly, with music and banners) down the aisles into their seats. Family and friends of grads are standing. For. You. I’ve done this 7 times now, and it gets me EVERY TIME.


3. Sit with department friends or people from other departments you don’t know. It’s a fun way to be collegial. A couple of years ago, a former student of mine was the speaker, and one of his other profs and I enjoyed talking about how awesome he was.


4. For all the decorum of the event, give in to the moment of seeing your students. Hug generously. Take lots of smiling pictures. Wave to them as they wait to go up on stage.

Here's me with a student (not shown for privacy reasons):


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