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No Diplomas from Phil

First the administration scratches Convocation, and now it seems that students will not get their diplomas on stage at Commencement. They can pick them up afterwards. I figure that the time-and-motion-study gurus determined that the College could shave 15-20 minutes off the time of the ceremony by not handing over the parchment mano a mano, and, hey, Phil and Carolyn certainly have better things to do on that day (whadya bet they’ll be writing another diversity memo to the campus?). Of course, the from-his-hand-to-yours tradition has been going on for 247 years, but remember, Phil is moving Dartmouth forward.

The next thing that Phil and Carolyn have planned is to replace classes with MOOCs. Just kidding. Nobody could be that foolish.

Addendum: There is a place in this world for pomp and ceremony. A solemn moment cuts memories deeper than an assembly line shuffle.

Addendum: An undergraduate writes in:

Regarding your most recent post, I think it appalling. It is a very small thing to do, but symbolically huge. I see pictures of recent Dartmouth alumni with diplomas clutched triumphantly in their hands after receiving them from Phil. I always imagined how that moment would feel for my graduation. My class won’t have that, and it’s a big deal.

Addendum: Hey, it’s just a sheet of paper, right?

Commencement Diplomas.jpg

But who among us doesn’t remember the moment vividly? In a symbolic way, it’s what you worked towards for four years. From that point in time onward, you can think, “I have a degree from Dartmouth.”

Addendum: An observer writes in:

Apparently, some students are allowed to “walk” with their class (participate in the graduation ceremony) without having completed all of their requirements for graduation. They receive a blank sheet of paper. Which can be embarrassing.

My word. We can’t have people being embarrassed now, can we? In my day, we received a scroll, not the open sheet as pictured above.

Addendum: A student writes in:

I just caught your latest post — it was meant to be facetious, right? For four years I have been telling my family, most of them in Mexico, about how much Dartmouth cared for its undergraduates and valued us. I’ve hyped up my graduation for this entire time, and am blessed enough to have many of my family members come up for graduation, including my elderly grandmother, who otherwise is in no condition for the international trip. I told them I would walk. They are expecting me to walk. Why wouldn’t the administration announce this far beforehand?

You’re known for your humorous posts at the expense of the admin, and I can’t find reference to the decision elsewhere, so I had to ask to be sure. Unfortunately I doubt this is the case. How sad that I expect such a hurtful decision to be true.

Addendum: An older alumnus shares the same values:

This decision is reminiscent of Jim Freedman initially doing away with meeting with each new student to sign his or her Matriculation paper. Too busy to be bothered. But that didn’t last long after the outcry from students and alums alike; although I understand now it’s done with groups of students, not one-on-one.

I will always cherish shaking hands and sitting down with John Sloan Dickey in the Tower Room under the gaze of Dallin’s magnificent statuette, “Appeal to the Great Spirit,” as he asked where I was from and personally signed the document with his distinctive scrawl. The message imparted? When he said, as he always did, at the close of Convocation (what’s that? students may now ask): “Men of Dartmouth, your business here is learning. Good luck, we’ll be with you all the way,” we know he really meant it.

Likewise, as I received my diploma and a handshake directly from the President at graduation, it was a personal moment that demonstrated what “all the way” really meant.

Addendum: An alum tells us how it’s done elsewhere:

My reunion at MIT was last weekend. As a point of comparison Rafael Reif, the President of MIT handed out diplomas personally to every graduate - undergrads and grad students. MIT is a much bigger school than Dartmouth. At a reception at his house Dr. Reif told me, “This is the fun part of the job.” Is Phil just lazy?

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