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Pomp to personal, Convocation has it allmarshall_convocation

The year is 2003 and Dave Marshall, soon-to-be President of Mount Royal College, is taking part in his last Convocation as President of Nipissing University. The very first graduand to walk across the stage is a young woman who has earned her teaching degree. She says to him: “I’m so glad you’re going to Mount Royal. Because of MRC, I’m here today.”

Not all of the 70 or so ceremonies Dave Marshall has attended have left such a mark on his memory, but if you think he’s grown tired or bored with the event, you’re wrong.

“Arguably, it’s just a ceremony, but it’s the point at which I’m truly reminded why I do all the things I do all year,” he says.

“There’s only one reason why we have buildings and offices and work with the government and have mandate changes — and that’s so students can walk across the stage.

“Everybody here — from faculty to caretaking staff to security to managers — is here because of the students. Everyone contributes to the students’ experience and I would think that everyone would want to add to their own sense of accomplishment by celebrating alongside the students.”

Mount Royal, he says, does a wonderful job of Convocation, blending the personal and the formal.

“Sure, we have the pomp, the gowns and the caps, but no one would describe what we do as stiff and cold.”

If there’s any doubt that this celebration of achievement, this rite of passage, is important to students and their families, Marshall needs only mention a few of what he calls the warm and fuzzies: the spontaneous back flips off the stage; the mom who brings her four kids across the stage with her; the 83-year-old grandmother who earns her degree and a standing ovation from the audience.

“Convocation is a good time for everyone to realize that they and Mount Royal do a pretty good thing — and we all need that kind of day to bring us down to earth.”