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Changes and traditions of 50 years of convocation

By Dale Johnson Posted: June 6, 2015 7:30 a.m.

This year’s Convocation is again a time of celebration and new beginnings.
This year’s Convocation is again a time of celebration and new beginnings. (Photo courtesy of Trevor Hopkin - U of R Photography).

In some ways this year’s Spring Convocation is unrecognizable from the first ceremony in Regina, which was held 50 years ago in 1965.

Yet in other ways, Convocation is steeped in tradition.

This year’s event marks graduation for 2,057 students, while in 1965 there were about 150 students receiving degrees, diplomas and certificates. This year the event was again held at the Conexus Arts Centre over three days. The first event in 1965 was held on a Monday at Darke Hall.

Other differences can be found by looking at the 1965 convocation program, which was 12 pages; this year’s program is 56 pages.

At that first convocation, the women graduates were announced first, and then the men.

There was a pledge, with the President asking the new graduates: “Do you promise faithfully to observe and loyally to maintain the statutes, customs, privileges and liberties of this your University?” Then the graduates, in unison, responded “These things I pledge myself to do.”

But many elements of convocation have not changed.

Both events open with a procession of dignitaries in colourful gowns; the singing of O Canada; prayers; and the conferring of honorary degrees. (In 1965, Prime Minister Lester Pearson and retired Luther College principal Rex Schneider were so honored.)  Then comes the highlight for each student and their family and friends: each graduate’s name is announced, they walk across the stage and are admitted by the Chancellor. Outstanding achievements by students are recognized. Afterwards, there is a reception. In 1965 it was held at the Trianon Ballroom in downtown Regina; this year it was held at the Conexus Arts Centre.

What will never change about convocation is that it’s the ceremonial wrap-up to years of study – and the start of a new phase of life. It’s also a time when family and friends are on hand to help the new graduates celebrate their success, both during the formal ceremony, and afterwards at a reception where food and refreshments are mixed with hearty hugs, warm handshakes and tears of joy.

As Chancellor Jim Tomkins said in his remarks at this year’s ceremony: “Convocation always has been and will always be a time for reflection, pride and celebration.”

For more coverage of Convocation 2015, click any story below.

-University of Regina’s largest convocation ever

-Strong academic skills and community focus wins President’s Medal

-University Medal awarded at Convocation

-Honorary degree recipients announced

-Half a century of granting degrees