This past weekend, Trinity Western University celebrated it’s 50th undergraduate Commencement ceremony. It almost went off without a hitch – quite literally! But more on that in a minute.
The Registrar’s Office at TWU is not completely responsible for graduation, but we do have a large part to play. Our role is to work directly with the students in graduation, and to work with the Events Office to plan the ceremony itself.
Working with students directly means that we do several processes. First, we ask students to apply to graduate. On the application form, they tell us their height and whether they plan to attend. We need this information so that we know how many gowns to rent and we need their height so that we can order the appropriate gown length. We rent the gowns and hoods from Gaspard, based in Winnipeg, Manitoba. They provide excellent service for us.
We confirm whether or not students are eligible to participate by auditing their courses against their degree requirements, and we spend countless hours communicating with students about this. Our goal is to help every student successfully navigate all the eligibility rules and policies, which can sometimes be quite confusing for them.
We work with the Events Office to plan the ceremony, particularly around seating arrangements, order of ceremony, the processional and recessional, and how students will cross the stage, shake hands, receive their diploma folder, and get back to their seats. We confirm which students receive certain awards and how they will be awarded during the ceremony.
As you can imagine, there are a lot of supplies we have to take to the ceremony: gowns, caps (we use mortar boards), tassels, hoods, diploma folders, honour cords, and awards such as the Governor General’s Silver Medal. Our office normally rents a Five ton cube truck to transport everything because we hold the ceremony off campus. This year, we used a truck from Facilities Services and a trailer from the Biology department. This is where the “hitch” almost occurred.
It was my job to pick up the truck, hook it up to the trailer and take it to the loading area, not because I’m the Registrar, but because I have quite a bit of experience towing (and backing up) a trailer. In making all the arrangements, I thought to check on the details such as the hitch, the receiver, the size of the ball, and the insurance on the truck and trailer. But I neglected to check one small but crucial item: the electrical connection for the trailer lights (brake, turn signals and driving lights). When I hooked up the trailer on Friday night (the ceremony was on Saturday), I immediately saw that I had an issue. The trailer wiring harness and the truck wiring harness were not the same!
I crawled around under the truck for a while wondering how I was going to fix this. I had visions of wire snips, stripping insulation, electrical tape, and hours testing which wire did what, etc. But then my logical brain woke up and said to me, “Grant, you’re not the first person to borrow a trailer – someone must have invented a solution to this problem already.” So, after a quick trip down to our local Canadian Tire store, I found exactly what I was looking for for less than $25. It took all of ten seconds to connect the electrical and we were off – trailer hitch included. Phew!
The Commencement Ceremony was our best ever, too. We held it in the Langley Events Centre, where our Spartans hockey, basketball and volleyball teams play. It was PACKED FULL! The honourable Mr. Stockwell Day was the speaker, and did an admirable job, speaking for over 15 minutes, getting good laughs from the crowd and holding us in rapt attention without a stitch of notes in front of him. I know this because I was seated right behind him and his folder was blank!
Here is a photo of the event, taken by Zena Mitchell who was visiting from Kwantlen Polytechnic University (thank you, Zena!).Grad Pic