Convocation–it is a time for students to celebrate their academic success at Carleton University and to begin a new chapter in their lives. In addition to the diploma and photos that graduates will take away from this exciting day, many will keep their Convocation program as a meaningful souvenir of the day’s events.
Production of the Convocation programs is a lengthy process that begins in early February and does not end until just days before the ceremonies take place. It is a highly collaborative effort involving a number of departments, including University Registrarial Services (Registrar’s Office), the Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research, the Department of University Communications (DUC) and Graphic Services. Teams in each department spend many hours to ensure that all information is included in the programs, submitted to Senate on time for approval, and laid out attractively and professionally.
Since September 2003, Kitty Krupop (Development Officer in the Registrar’s Office) has validated the undergraduate students’ graduation ceremony degree program records for accuracy and has provided candidates’ information to Senate for approval. This can be a complicated process because, from the time of accepting graduation applications (December 1 to February 1), to the deadline for cancellation (May 15), and right before the Senate meeting at the end of May, the data is changing.
As Krupop explains, students may decide after the cut-off date that they want to switch from Honours BA to General, or vice versa. Or, they may have a name change or preference as to how their name appears on the diploma. Data integrity (i.e., making sure that the information in the program is exactly as the student has specified) is a responsibility that Krupop takes very seriously, and not just because the program is a legal document. “My name was misspelled in my graduation yearbook and I still remember how disappointed I felt for my parents and myself. Our goal is to make sure that we avoid these kinds of mistakes.”
After Senate has approved the graduates’ information, Krupop sorts students according to ceremony and then transfers the final documentation to DUC. Linda Backer, Assistant Dean/Graduate Registrar for the Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research, oversees the same process to ensure that all the information related to graduate students is accurate. DUC then has one week to lay out all the programs. The timing is critical because the programs–which vary in number each year according to the number of graduates and ceremonies–must be forwarded to Senate for final approval before they can be sent to Graphic Services for printing.
For many years, Nanci Jolicoeur, a graphic designer with DUC, has produced all of the programs. “I have been responsible for overseeing the layout of the programs, ensuring they have the correct number of pages and follow our branding standards, and that each day’s program includes the correct information.” Jolicoeur has often taken work home in the evenings to ensure that the final publications are finished on time. When asked how many hours she has put in over the years, she laughs. “Too many to keep track of!”
In addition to the painstaking work of ensuring that each page is correct, any given year can bring improvements to the overall design. In 2003, for example, the university rebranded which meant that Jolicoeur had to update the look of the programs to correspond with the university’s new image. This year DUC will be creating two new visual concepts to present to Senate for the fall 2007 Convocation. The volume of work will be higher this year, too, because the double cohort is graduating–as of mid-May 2,871 students had already applied to graduate. Graphic Services will print over 13,000 copies for all eight ceremonies, with two ceremonies per program.
Chris Strangemore, DUC’s desktop publisher, is taking over the project this year from Jolicoeur and is looking forward to the challenge. “It’s a big responsibility, but Nanci has done a great job of refining the production process,” says Strangemore. “I’m happy to be able to give her a break.” Strangemore is under even greater pressure this year to ensure that the final product is perfect–Jolicoeur’s daughter Samantha will be in the graduating class.