Cultural Capital Reappropriated

(Voiceover):  According to one person’s notes from the February 1st Chair’s meeting, “Based on the State of Illinois’ projected budget and CCC’s response, expecting a flat enrollment and decrease in state funding, HWC is expecting a $600,000 deficit in our operating budget… Therefore, the 22 approved new faculty hires for this year were cut down to 4 (not counting replacements.). ”

Cost of Renting UIC Pavilion: $254,754.

Cost of Event Planning and Management Services (a 10K Businesses Graduate, no less!): Up to $200,000.

The view from the floor near the end of the graduation ceremony: Priceless.

Graduation View


Graduation Suggestions?

I originally planned on doing this way back in May, but by the time I got around to it, the place had pretty much cleared out (much like the graduation!), but since I promised it and one of your faculty council members has recently raised the topic as one in need of discussion, I thought I should post the chance for people (now or in the future) to make some suggestions about next year’s graduation while this year’s is still a good ways off.

Just in case you missed it, last spring’s was better in some ways than the year before (no stifling hot weather, no three hour wait in the parking lot) and I really, really liked the fact that faculty and students were staged in the same area together, so I had the chance to see and interact with our graduating students before the ceremony started, at least.

Even still, it’s hard to say that the ceremony was a “success;” one commentor mentioned the de facto faculty boycott of the district wide event–I counted 24 HW faculty members proceeding in with the students. Others volunteered. Even including them, though, I’d guess that most expected it to be long and frustrating, and so avoided it. The students who went were, for the most part, practical in their approach. Here is the picture I took from my seat at the moment the Chancellor said, “I now officially confer your degree” etc., and asked everyone to move their tassles from the left to the right, you know–when everyone throws their hats in the air in the movies.

You might recall that I was sitting with HW students and we were at the very back of the floor. So, all of that space in front of me is the space where the graduates from the six other colleges had been. If you look up to the stands on the far left, you can see that they are empty, too. The worst part is that the few people in the picture were all faculty marshals. If there were 50 students in the building at that point, I’d be surprised.

And if we keep increasing the number of degrees we give out, it’ll only get worse.

Finally, I kind of miss the fact that the people who earned Basic and Advanced Certificates (and GED degrees) used to be included, but aren’t anymore.

And I really missed hearing the rocking HW student ensemble on the recessional.

So, in that spirit, I’d like to suggest that graduations go back to local campuses. The different colleges at Universities hold separate graduations all the time. Why not us?

Failing that, I have no solution to the degree conferral issue other than universal conferral, with simultaneous later pick up/individual recognition. If we did that, the whole thing would be over in less than an hour and it would be much more celebratory.

Also, as our Valedictorian suggested, maybe some music in the parking lot to keep spirits up?

And maybe an email to the faculty announcing where to be and when, if invitations and instructions are not going to be distributed with the gowns (as they once were).

Any and all others can go in the comments. I’m sure someone will take notice…though, the board report on the event suggests that everyone was pretty happy with how things went. I suppose it’s all relative. It was certainly easy to get to a bathroom at the end of the ceremony. Beyond that, I’m not too sure I would classify it as a ‘success.’ But maybe that’s me.

Think, Know, Prove Graduation Post: Debriefing the (Ceremony/Debacle?)

This morning, I looked back in the archives to the discussions about last year’s graduation to see if I could figure out why there’s such incredible apathy about this year’s, and, well, let’s just say that it’s pretty clear now.

Too bad.

Anyway, for the 35? 50? faculty who went–what did you see? And for those who went and those who didn’t:

What do you think? What do you know? What can you prove?

Graduation News

Dean Blair says to show up, dressed in your graduation gear at 12:30 in the UIC Forum parking garage (nearest to the Racine stop on the Blue Line; get off there and walk east and then south).

Someone will start marching at 1:30 (HW will be the last to enter, though, so we probably won’t be marching then), the ceremony starts at 2pm, and, I’m told, they’re hoping to be done by 5pm.

The weather looks temperate, but maybe a little rainish.

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.


As part of the Graduation Outreach Strategy, District Office has
planned a series of activities to promote graduation.
One such activity is
Faculty and Staff Cap and Gown Day!
Faculty and Staff are encouraged to wear caps and gowns on
Thursday, March 31, 2011
in an effort to prompt more students to inquire about and sign
up for the
Spring 2011 Graduation

that will be held on
May 11, 2011 at the UIC Pavilion.
April 15, 2011 is the deadline to file a graduation application. 

Students will pick up their tickets the week of April 25, 2011.
Additional information flyers and posters will be distributed throughout the school.

‘Trying to Teach’ Tuesday

This may not appear to be relevant but I’ve been thinking about school uniform requirements and if it would be a good idea to have a dress code at the college level. There is a precedent that leads me to raise the issue: male students are asked to remove their head gear when entering HWC.

I suppose we (an institution of higher learning) are trying to mold our students to be good citizens, right? Maybe we believe this requirement is in keeping with our college mission, right? If this is the case, why not institute a policy requiring students to meet certain dress standards from head to toe. The argument could be made that they are individuals and what they do is their business, not the business of the college or the district; but, isn’t it our business to make sure that our students are prepared to meet the challenges of academic and professional life?

Are we sending mixed signals to our students when we require them to write proper sentences and neglect to require proper attire even though both will compliment their future professional endeavors?

‘Trying to Teach’ Tuesday

Last week, the majority of CPS students officially began their summer break.

CCC students are now in week 3 of their summer semester.

Is it just me, or does anyone else see a disconnect between these two public institutions when it comes to facilitating the transition for graduating high school seniors? Why can’t CPS and CCC coordinate academic calendars?

Administrators can argue that seniors represent a small portion of the student body so why bother doing anything. Well, here’s how I see it:

According to CPS stats and facts, for the 2009-2010 school year there were 115,770 students in grades 9-12. Divide that number by 4 and you have a possible 28942.5 graduating seniors. Take that number and divide it by our seven major city colleges and that averages to 4134.6 possible incoming freshmen. How many can consider starting in the summer? The number is ZERO.

Are we doing all we can to provide learning opportunities for our young citizens, or are the overlapping calendars interfering with our educational goals?

From Our PR Office

Maybe y’all could announce this in your classes?
Hello Everyone:
Wondering if someone has videotape of last Saturday’s HWC Graduation at Symphony Center?
Channel 11 is doing a story about us and they are requesting some footage of the ceremony.
If you know of someone who was there with a video camera, we’d like to borrow that tape.
Contact Greg King for more information:

Interesting Information for Advising Students

I was poking around looking for some statistics on some stuff for my bestest person the other day to help her out on a project she’s involved with, and I came across this and was completely derailed.

From the Journal of Blacks in Higher Education:

Amherst College, the small liberal arts college in western Massachusetts, now has a black student graduation rate of 94 percent, the second highest in the nation. Williams College, Wellesley College, and Princeton University also post a black student graduation rate of 94 percent. Four other highly ranked colleges and universities in the United States posted a black student graduation rate of 90 percent or above. They are Brown University, Washington University, Stanford University, and Yale University.

Twelve other high-ranking institutions have a black student graduation of 86 percent or above. They are Dartmouth College, Columbia University, Duke University, Hamilton College, Northwestern University, Rice University, Smith College, Swarthmore College, the University of Virginia, the University of Pennsylvania,Wake Forest University, and Wesleyan University…

Among the nation’s colleges and universities that are commonly rated as selective, the lowest black student graduation rate occurs at Carleton College in Minnesota. Currently only 66 percent of the black freshmen who enroll at Carleton College go on to graduate. Among the high-ranking universities, the lowest black student graduation rate is at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. But the number of black students at Carnegie Mellon is not large. The curriculum at Carnegie Mellon is heavily directed toward science. This is probably a factor in the relatively low graduation rate of black students.

Far more disturbing is the poor black student graduation rate at the academically selective University of Michigan. This is a huge state university of 40,000 students. And performance there is a national bellwether. Only 68 percent of entering black students at the University of Michigan go on to graduate. Currently there are nearly 1,900 black students at the University of Michigan, the largest black enrollment of any high-ranking college or university. If these black students graduate at the same rate as have their peers in the recent past, about 600 of them will fail to earn their bachelor’s degree.

I’m definitely saving this report on my desktop at school so it is ready at hand for advising questions; I’ve had a lot of students interested in Michigan over the last five years or so; same with Carleton. I wonder if this data would have affected their decision at all.

Even if you don’t plan on using it for those purposes be sure to check out this section:

Explaining the Differences in Black Student Graduation Rates

Why are black graduation rates very strong at some high-ranking institutions and considerably weaker at other top-ranked schools? Here are a few possible explanations:

Some of the ideas put forth as explanations were things I suspected, but had nothing beyond that to support my guesses. Some of the explanations, though–especially when they tied them to particular schools–and comparisons were really surprising to me.

And yes, it’s a couple of years old, but I doubt any of these institutions’ numbers could turn around in a major way one direction or the other in a mere year or two. Heck, it takes most schools a year just to decide who’s on the committee…

Graduation Strategies

With all the hootenanny out there about completion and the current administration’s stated commitment for tying federal dollars to graduation rates, this little bit of research shows some interesting promise, especially for any faculty members who are part of the Retention/Completion Committee, that President Wozniak mentioned during the State of the College address and/or interested in the discussion that CAST is proposing. Here’s the upshot:

An examination of the educational records of more than 62,000 adult undergraduates at 48 colleges finds that students who had sought and been awarded academic credit by their institutions for “prior learning” earned in the military, corporate training and other non-classroom settings were more than twice as likely to graduate, and to persist even if they did not graduate, than were their peers who had not earned such credit.

Does anyone know how empowered our advisors are to give credit for prior learning? In four years as Chair, I only recall one student request for credit from prior knowledge being forwarded to me from advising. And my guess is that not a lot of our students would even think to ask…

This is yet another reason to shift the time for registration to significantly earlier than the week before classes.