Post Graduation DeBrief and Feedback

What did you think? What did you hear? What did you see?

Official observations and contest adjudication will follow…


I’ve been waiting to write because I’ve been a bit dispirited by the whole experience for exactly the reasons stated in the comments already posted. Thanks to the commentators for having the zip to say what I couldn’t bring myself to sit down and type. Usually I feel picked up by the graduation. This year, it just felt anticlimactic. Pffftht.


My Personal Favorite Moment: The big “Wow!” right after Mayor Daley’s speech. An unexpected delight.

Things that Sucked: Waiting in a parking lot, that about 1400 of the students had left (along with 90% of the audience) by the time of the “tassle change,” that the speeches—what I could make of them—were all about the speakers and their individual achievement(s) and only tangentially about what it means to be college educated, about learning, or about the future and responsibilities of the educated (a passing mention in Mayor Daley’s speech is all I heard of that), the new tagline (did you see it on the flags?): “Education that Works” (puke).

Puzzlers: Honorary Professorship for the Mayor? Was that meant to be an honor or an insult? Only one valedictorian speaking? Did they draw straws?

Good Things: Though it was long, they kept a quick and steady pace with the degrees and names. It took five minutes to do the first two rows. So I counted the additional rows (there were 40) and projected that they’d be done at 9:15 (85 minutes from the 7:50 name calling start time); they finished at 9:21. Good pacing. It helped, too, that the Mayor RAN through his speech, reading right over the applause lines. It was a strange speech (“You can go to the Library and learn about great artists of the world”—it’s true, but kind of a strange thing to tell a bunch of people who just paid for an education in such things, no?), I thought, but at least he ran through it quickly (12 minutes or so). Not bad. The band. They did a nice job. Especially the Cymbals. Nice flippage.

Prediction Scorecard:

Mathissexy continued his dominant run of prognostication. He shall be rewarded for it with $1 to buy a lottery ticket.

Avid_Reader (0 for 3)

~5 non student centered speakers—NO

~11:23 ending—NO

~Mass Disorganization—NO

Charlie (1 for 3)

~PowerPoint Presentation—YES

~AV Problems—NO (but the sound was awful (per usual for that building)

~9:45pm—NO (over by 19 minutes; not bad)

Realist (0 for 3)



~Interactive Polls and Slides and AV Problems—NO

Alchemist (1 of 3)

~8:50pm—NO (but closest by Price Is Right Rules; not bad)

~Cell phone ringage onstage—NO (not that I’m aware of, anyway, but one person thought s/he spotted a Blue Tooth device in Aybar’s ear at one point. Unconfirmed.)

~Over/Under for Tribune coverage set at Page A20/3 click minimum—YES (I was unable to find any coverage at all, which makes this a winner by the second iteration)

MathisSexy (5 of 9, rounds up to 2 of 3)

~9:35—NO (But credit for being the closest, just 9 minutes over)

~AV/Tech Problems—NO

~4+ mentions of Chancellor’s OH experience—NO (one for sure, and then two more sentences about it, but that was it. The Mayor, I think, alluded to it, but did not reference it directly. I’m willing to be corrected on this, though).

~Mayor/Chancellor Hug—YES (a half hug, along with a cheek peck, but this happened, I think)

~Daley Leaves Early—YES (right after his speech, amazingly AS the Chancellor was conferring the degrees. Really? Couldn’t wait another minute for the conferral? Grrrrr.)

~10 Faculty in Need of Gown Adjustments—YES (Gown watching was an amusing part of evening. Many were in disarray before the ceremony.)

~Most of the lining up would occur about 20 minutes prior to the ceremony YES—This happened, leading many of us to wonder what the hell we had to be there two hours before the ceremony for AND wonder why we had to stand around in a line for 20 minutes doing nothing.)

~Presence of balloons, lasers, strollers, food, beverages, signs and other contraband—NO (Though I’m sure there were some in there somewhere, there was little of this. Not much celebration or hollering for people as they went either. Oddly, the audience was much less effusive than typical. This can be read two ways: the crowd was being respectful of the request to hold their applause OR most of them could not tell if and when their person was up on the stage/could not hear understand the names being called.) I found this incredibly dispiriting. Personally, I love the mini-celebrations; especially when they’ve been explicitly “outlawed.”

~Mathissexy wouldn’t be there—YES.

UsuallyConfused (0 for 3)

~9:38pm—NO (but close (12 minutes over); not bad)

~Call names of non-walkers to bolster impression—NO (Could be wrong, though. I heard a few faculty say this, but I think it is a confusion based on the fact that the names were not read in accordance with the walkers receipt of the degrees. Like usual, the candidates handed their name slip to someone, but UN-like usual, they were hustled toward the degree giver, regardless of where the reader was. Within the first three or four people of each degree group, a gap developed and the names being read fell behind the people receiving their degree, which meant that at the end of each group there were names being read but not people receiving degrees. The reason (I think) is that they’d already walked across and headed downstage toward their seat, and not that they were non-walkers. Could be wrong on this, though.)

~Someone will sleep on stage and nearly fall over—NO (I thought this was a guarantee; my money would have been on Aybar. It’s possible that he has learned to sleep with his eyes open at the School of the Americas, but if so, he’s very good at it and deserves credit for not betraying any obvious sign of sleepage. Neither did anyone else. If Perry had been on stage it would have happened, but no luck. A true disappointment of the evening.)

FairlyApparent (0 for 3)

~Don’t Stop Believing at the end—NO (Black Eyed Peas)

~Huge Disruption/Pink Elephant—NO (but about half way through, I was praying for one)

~9:59pm—NO (33 minutes over)

Jenny (0 for 3)

~9:37pm—NO (only 11 minutes over; not bad)

~4 non-student related speakers—NO

~HW Faculty member required to carry an Orange Flag—NO (but credit for the flag prediction; not bad)

Please post any corrections in the comments. I won’t see them until Monday, but I will see them then. Until then, carry on.

10 thoughts on “Post Graduation DeBrief and Feedback

  1. Looking back on it, I must say that I enjoyed myself, thanks to at least being able to converse with fellow faculty members and ultimately recognizing the accomplishment of our students. But I have many concerns, and from the conversations I have had, I am not alone. The common sentiment is disappointed at best, and rage at the worst.

    Chief among the complaints is this: I was not able to treasure my students’ accomplishment like I could last year. Last year, I recognized about half the students, and my own students were crossing the stage every couple minutes. I could sit back, feel proud, and reflect on my time with these students, many of whom I would never see again. It was a worthwhile send off. This year, amidst the ocean of non-HWC students, I felt very little in regard to the people crossing that stage. I’m happy for them, but in the same way I’m happy for anyone who graduates at a different college. They were not my students, and they were not the students of the faculty I work with: those with whom I see everyday, at committees, department meetings, the CAST room: those who I can count as friends and members of my team.

    That’s what it came down to: last night, there was no sense of community.

    That may be a different feeling than one might feel if one were from district. From district’s perspective, the seven colleges are best understood as branches of one organization. But from the perspective of those “in the trenches,” we are not: our community is not created by policies, rhetoric, and colorful flags, but by working together to educate students, conversations about our ideas and lives, and the feelings of empathy and comradeship that are built up over time.

    • I could not agree more with this, Kamran. And not just because I was sitting next to you…

  2. Quick thoughts off the top of my head:

    1) My condolences for those hearty souls that got there at 4:30. I now know who to talk to if I need some detailed impressions of the UIC Pavilion parking structure.

    2) I’d like an explanation for why it started so late. Was someone somewhere waiting on something? Or was it purely logistics?

    3) Thanks for keeping the speeches relatively short and on point. I’m impressed that people were aware that an event that is scheduled to end so late on a Wednesday can’t go over just because we couldn’t start on time.

    4) Speaking of speeches, where was the sign language interpreter?

    5) I’ll agree with Kamran in the sense that I’m glad I went and supported the college and our students, and now I’ll always have the shared experience with my fellow faculty (“Remember when we all went to UIC for graduation and listened to names for 90 minutes?”). However, I don’t really feel the need to something like this ever again without some major changes. I’d be pretty happy going back to the way things were.

  3. This hearty soul was greeted by the 9:00am class with “Are you sick?” and “You look terrible”. Nice last day of classes.

  4. 4) Speaking of speeches, where was the sign language interpreter?

    Word on the street is a request was sent in to have the interpreters on the stage AND in the audience. However, in the end they were on the audience floor only…It’s a shame because there were students graduating who needed interpreters.

    (I say a shame, because I’m being nice about the oversight and assuming it was just an oversight)

    • I’ll take your word for it that there were interpreters on the floor, but I was looking and didn’t see any.

      Given the muddy sound, closed captioning would have been nice (though, admittedly, impossible).

  5. What I saw? A masquerade of academic accomplishment- Was anyone else bothered by the clear disregard for academic regalia? Numerous members of our district and local leadership, on stage, wore regalia that was NOT in accordance with their highest degree earned. The wearing of velvet and the doctoral tam is reserved for individuals that have earned a doctorate degree. Also, the program had no discussion for why people wore the colors/hoods/cap and gown- I know on my campus- that has always been included in the program. I feel this is such a blatant disregard for academia and amount of work that goes into earning the doctoral degree.

    • …And perhaps it was already mentioned, but there was no faculty speech from a Distinguished Professor or Faculty Council President. Perhaps that was always just an HWC thing?

    • Unfortunately too many people from the district are unaware of the significance of hoods, gowns, and colors.

  6. I am sure I am not alone when I hope most fervently that the one graduation ceremony is NEVER, NEVER, NEVER repeated. For all the reasons stated above but mostly for the benefit of our students. I know that the students who went through the ceremony were rightfully proud that they could say Daley was their commencement speaker but that was a perfect storm moment and isn’t going to be the norm in the future.

    I heard from our HR chief that there were 1700 graduates and that HWC was well-represented with few no-shows. I did walk through the graduate section of the parking lot and saw some of my former students. Or rather, they saw me. I heard my name and looked up to see some familiar faces. They were excited about graduating and told me of their future plans. They were all going on to four-year schools. Wonderful!

    I would like to have seen them after so I could meet their families and share my congratulations with them. However, as has been widely reported, most had left by the very end. I don’t blame those students, it was a very long ceremony and all graduations have a certain tedium built in. As mentioned elsewhere, by the time a student’s name was called, they were already walking away from the stage. It did cause some confusion but I have to say that those doing the name calling, including our own Margarita Chavez, did an amazing job given the amounts of students and diversity of student names. I did miss Metoyer’s occasional raised eyebrow and “Really?” over a particular difficult name which would be whispered to him by the student. Comedic value is always prized in the monotony of name-calling.

    I did note that some of our wheel-chair bound graduates were allowed on the stage. I observed the first to be raised on a scissor lift. The helper got him up, briefly conferred with an onstage person who nodded their head no as if to say there wasn’t enough time for the wheel-chairs. The gentleman was lowered back down until someone with some smarts recognized that you couldn’t deny the about 5-9 wheel-chair graduates, so up the same gentleman went and he proudly pushed himself forward to receive his diploma.

    About the colors-yes they were marched in as flags. We couldn’t boo the colors because they were being carried by happy students. Oddly, another school seems to have gold (paired with grey of course). The whole color thing is embarrassing and the fact that the ptb still had them incorporated into the ceremony is another example that this administration just doesn’t get it!

    Angela Henderson was all over the program but was a no-show in real life. Do we think the Chancellor is mad at her because Henderson has decided to once again serve under Watson at Chicago State?

    And a few words about the Evil Queen. She was booed. Not loudly, not in a pronounced way and NOT from faculty but she was most assuredly booed by some of the student graduates. Some faculty looked shocked, some looked smug and some said out loud, “GOOD.” She gave a short speech and
    only mentioned her own City College antecedents once. Some faculty cringed and I could only assume that they are Olive Harvey professors. I am sure that most OH members are mightily embarrassed by the association. To her credit, she shook every graduates hand (on her side of the stage) and even though her smile had slipped by about the four hundredth student she gamely held on. As did we all who stayed for the whole event.

    I have about 20 more impressions but must now get back to finishing grades. Another fall-out from the 5 hour time commitment which was graduation.

    Next year, Chicago Symphony Center or Chicago Theater, individual college ceremony with our own valedictorian, salutatorian, and distinguished professor. OUR MUSICIANS, our students, our students’ families, our own traditions and NO EQ.

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