Creating a first (and first-class) honors convocation

by John Keenan, UNMC public relations | May 16, 2014

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It's 5:30 p.m.

The Durham Museum has been closed for 30 minutes, so it's only a matter of time before this group gets ushered out of the lecture hall.

But there are so many things left to figure out.

How many faculty members will be seated on the stage? Who should be stage right, where the students will mount the stage, and who should be stage left, near the podium? How far back should the table with the pins -- silver for Master's graduates, gold for Ph.D.s -- be set? And the autographed football, a gift for the speaker -- where should it be placed? How should it be presented?

It's Wednesday evening, two days before the UNMC Office of Graduate Studies holds its first honors convocation, and Pamela Carmines, Ph.D., and Dele Davies, M.D., are hammering out the logistics of the ceremony. Cody Phillips, the graduate studies office associate, is taking notes on a four-color diagram of the stage -- they'll put four chairs near the podium. No, seven. No, nine.

"We don't want speakers crossing the stage," Dr. Davies says. "They should be able to stand up and move quickly to the microphone and when they're done, they can sit right back down."

For a complete photo album of the inaugural honors convocation event, click here.

Preparations for this event have been ongoing since September.

UNMC Chancellor Jeffrey P. Gold, M.D., and Susan Fritz, Ph.D., interim executive vice president and provost and interim dean of the Graduate College at the University of Nebraska, have recorded video greetings to the students. UNMC graduate studies alum Gary Sieck, Ph.D., is returning to give the keynote speech.

Now it's the home stretch. Sound levels are being checked, the photographer's position blocked out.


And less than 48 hours later, it's all over.

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From left, Terri Vadovski, Vaness Wilcox and Cody Phillips of the UNMC Office of Graduate Studies
It's about 4:30 p.m. on Friday. Next to one of the trains in the Durham Museum's ground floor, the graduates are queued up for refreshments. Many have already doffed their academic robes. Families pose for photos.

Phillips is still carrying a folder, but he's got a grin on his face, and he and the other members of the Graduate Studies Office -- Vanessa Wilcox and Terri Vadovski -- are accepting congratulations from all sides. The pin presentations went smoothly. The speakers could be heard clearly. The video playback went off without a hitch.

And the graduates, and their families, are happy. All the hard work, to commemorate the graduates' hard work, has paid off.

"This was a marvelous event," Dr. Carmines tells the team.

The first of many such events to come.


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