Last year I wrote about the 2006 graduation, so I figured I’d recap the 2007 graduation too, for anyone who wasn’t there. This year’s was way better than last year’s—not as hot, not as long, and with good speeches. It’s possible I just think it was better, because this year I was the one wearing a cap & gown. But I talked to several of last year’s graduates who were also there this year, and they all agreed this year was a lot better. So congrats to the Class of 2007. Here’s how it went:
--It started an hour earlier, so it was a bit cooler and the sun wasn’t quite so direct until the end of the ceremony. Much nicer.
--LLM Speaker (Seagull Song): Her speech was light, pretty funny, and, most importantly, relatively short. She actually had quite a few funny jokes, and never took herself too seriously.
--Class Prez: El Presidente gave a nice, personal speech. He told some personal stories about classmates and had some nice words about the entire class. And, he got a huge ovation, which was nice after all the pointless controversy about the speaker, etc.
--Faculty Speaker, Prof. Bundy: About a thousand times better than last year. I was disappointed he didn’t sing, but it was still a nice speech. I wouldn’t have minded something a bit quirkier from him, but it was still Bundyesque and he kept it relatively short.
--Keynote Speaker, Bryan Stevenson: Well, maybe he's not quite Danny Glover, but after all the controversy on this here blog, Prof. Stevenson ended up giving a great speech and got an extended standing ovation. Can’t say I was real surprised that he turned out to be so good. The guy’s a dynamic speaker who does fascinating work, and his stories about his grandma and Rosa Parks et al. were particularly entertaining. I’m pretty sure he didn’t even have most of it written down—he was just talking, saying whatever he felt, and it came off great. I thought he did a good job of being political without being overly preachy.
One quibble: during his introduction Dean Edley made some overtly political comments. Personally, I agreed with the substance of those comments, but I still felt like it wasn’t Dean Edley’s place, at a graduation, to be making those comments. It was clear that Prof. Stevenson would be making a politically-oriented speech, so there wasn’t really any reason for Dean Edley to make comments that potentially could have alienated many students. I know many of my classmates will disagree on that point, but it’s just something I was thinking.
Awards, Advanced Degrees: This was totally different from last year. As for awards, instead of calling them up one-by-one, each was just asked to stand at their seat while a description of their accomplishments was read. I don’t think it would have been terrible for them to walk up on stage while the descriptions were being read, so that they could get one round of applause together on stage, after all the awards have been announced. All 4 were very deserving, by the way.
As for the advanced degrees, this was WAY better. Last year, they called up each person individually, read a description, etc. This year Dean Edley gave a general description of the type of work they did, and they all got hooded together. In total, the awards/advanced degrees part of the ceremony took 5-10 minutes, instead of 30-40. Huge improvement.
Awarding of Degrees: Maybe it was just where I was sitting, but the crowd seemed far more attentive this year (last year everyone was milling about and talking to each other). This was probably thanks in part to Prof. Stevenson, who helped to maintain everyone’s attention, as well as the shortened time for awarding advanced degrees. And the monotony of calling out names was broken up by the best moment of graduation: a marriage proposal! It was a pretty cool moment and got huge cheers from everyone in the audience.
Dean Edley’s speech: Just when you think you’re done…Dean Edley has something to say. His speech was better this year, because it was a somewhat more subtle plea for money. He also got genuinely choked up a couple of times when talking about how we were the first class to come in with him (I actually thought he was about to announce he was leaving the school for a minute there). But, I still don’t like the timing on this. Everyone thinks we’re done after we hand out the degrees! Put Dean Edley’s speech earlier in the program, perhaps between Bundy and Stevenson.
The reception: the brownies were excellent! So were the strawberries. One suggestion though: practically everyone from the graduation walks down one side of Gayley, and then tries to go down the same set of stairs into the courtyard, and there is a huge traffic jam. Put up a few signs showing alternate routes into Boalt.
BBQ lunch at my house: Excellent.
Saturday night: I know a few parties were happening, and thanks to those who organized them, but it would be nice to have a quasi-official graduation party that attracts as much of the class as possible. Hopefully next year BHSA or whoever else can pull something quasi-official together.
So that’s it for this year. It was a great experience, and I was glad to see the school make small tweaks to the ceremony that I think really helped improve it. Congrats 2007!
Labels: Moving Out