Print Edition: June 18, 2014
Convocation always seems to strike a balance between giddy exuberance and decorum. New graduates in black robes and a variety of footwear ranging from sparkling stilettos to sneakers beamed as they stepped into the dim, cavernous Abbotsford Centre. They would enter as UFV students and exit as alumni.
Three ceremonies took place over two days, June 12 and 13: one for the college of arts; the second for the faculty of professional studies and faculty of access and open studies; and the last for the faculty of applied and technical studies, science, and health studies. More than 2,750 students graduated in total.
Finding wings on the way
President Mark Evered stressed the continuing relevance of higher education in today’s world despite “gloomy” media reports, and reminded students and guests that in many countries — indeed, even within our own borders — many do not have access to university because of gender, socioeconomic status, political connections, and proximity to a school.
Chancellor Brian Minter noted, among other pieces of advice for graduates, that many leaving UFV would forge their own innovative careers.
“Airplanes were built before there were airports; cars were built before there were roads. This is your future,” he said. He also cautioned that fear keeps all of us from doing what we want to do, and we should instead embrace it. “Jump off that cliff, and find your wings on the way down.”
Three honorary doctorates were awarded over the course of the three ceremonies. Charlotte Kwon was recognized for enabling artisans in developing countries. She said three basic questions fuel her business decisions: Will this elevate skills? Will this improve the lives of artisans? Will this make the world a better place?
“Work should generate not only income, it should generate meaning,” she said.
George Siemens, who co-developed the first massive open online courses (MOOCs), encouraged grads to shape the future they want to see.
“Everything is in flux. Tools we now view as a daily part of our lives … are less than a decade old,” he said. “Become clear about what kind of world you want. It is the best point in history to be alive.”
The third honorary doctorate was awarded this year to Doug Hamilton, who has been with UFV since the beginning. Hamilton, soon-to-be 90 years old, was a bright spark on the stage, chuckling as he revealed he “grew up in Cloverdale when it was still in the country.”
The agrologist said he knew there was a hunger for learning in the Fraser Valley, and would settle for “no less than a college.” He even went to Ottawa to pitch the idea of a college to the member of parliament.
“Forty years later, I look around … and I am overwhelmed with pride and joy at what I helped to create those decades ago,” he said.
Post-humous diploma awarded
In the second ceremony, Kristen Erickson, who passed away on February 9 after battling cancer, was awarded a post-humous diploma in library and information technology. Her daughter, a grade five student in Abbotsford, crossed the stage in her mother’s stead, accepted the framed certificate, and shook Mark Evered’s hand.
UFV hits a milestone and Minter’s last convocation
As many students are aware, this year’s convocation also marked a milestone for the university.
Banners with the number 40 hung behind the stage to proclaim UFV four decades old, and before each ceremony, a slideshow on the screen above showed scenes from along the way: pictures from back when UFV was Fraser Valley College, when students met in community spaces like church basements and storefronts, when campus media like The Cascade and CIVL Radio came into being.
It featured initial snapshots of Abbotsford campus buildings, the early days of the theatre program, the opening of Baker House, and many more events that formed the school we know today. The UFV community includes not just students and faculty, but members of its surrounding communities, many of whom attended this year’s convocation ceremonies.
After the last graduate in the last ceremony had crossed the stage, emcee Brad Whittaker approached the microphone to conclude convocation. Before he could begin, however, Mark Evered hijacked the microphone to make a surprise announcement.
Evered explained the chancellor of a university, the only person at the university with the authority to grant credentials, as at convocation, has a maximum service of six years.
“When Dr. Minter’s term as chancellor ends this fall, we will hold [an official ceremony], but we could not allow your last convocation to go unrecognized,” he said, going on to acknowledge that Minter had put in about 60 hours total of convocation hugs and handshakes in his years as chancellor.
By Ashley Mussbacher (The Cascade/Photos)
Looking back, it’s unlikely anyone will remember word-for-word all the advice given by the 2014 convocation speakers, their regretful choice of shoes, or even whom they sat next to during the procession.
But we all remember the quirky moments even the most rehearsed events can never go without.
Before the first ceremony Chancellor Brian Minter’s gold star, which he humbly calls “the shiny thing,” was fastened to his green robes with safety pins. He noted UFV is a fantastic institution where faculty and students can mingle without any sense of pompous ego getting in the way.
Chairman Justin Goodrich of the Board of Governors practiced his speech in a hallway off the side of the stadium, and the Stó:l? drummers and elders prepared their outfits before the order of procession march.
Among graduates, emotions ranged from bouncing and excited to fretfully nervous. Family and friends found each other in the scattered crowd of over 300 graduates and their guests.
Graduates of sociology Jessica Bradley and Sophie Michalenko waited for their relatives, beaming at everyone around them.
“We’re pretty excited, maybe a little nervous,” says Bradley, “but after this I’ll be jumping into the Teacher’s Education Program here at UFV. I would like to teach at the elementary level.”
“My feet hurt!” exclaimed history major Amy Jones. “I definitely regret wearing heels.”
Bachelor of fine arts graduate Kelsey McHattie-Simpson posed for a picture with her father.
“I’m starting in Capilano University in September to begin my master’s. I would like to be an art administrator, or curator for small, non-profit sectors,” she explained.
As graduates crossed the stage many opted for hugs from President Mark Evered and the line of delegates instead of a firm handshake. Some do fist-pumps, or a happy little jig for the audience. One student even gives Evered a small gift as she shakes his hand.
Noise-makers and whistles greet the graduates in and out of the ceremony. People quickly line up at the wine table and the photography stand, before scattering to the parking lot, en route to some much-deserved celebration with family and friends.