First on-campus graduation hosted in style by King's
Pivoting from the ways things were done in past years meant that King’s held its first ever in-house graduation on April 30. With a goal of giving graduates a meaningful last day on campus surrounded by family and friends, King's decided not to hold grad offsite at a church, as was traditionally done, but to send students off in style from their own campus.
“I wanted us to showcase what we have and to show people what we can do with a little bit of creativity. The gym is by far our biggest space and yes, it is a gym, but it doesn’t have to look like a gym,” Building Services and Acting Conference Services Manager Lynda Koot says of why she pitched the idea of hosting graduation on campus.
King's contracted a production company to transform the gym into a black-curtained, blue-lighted, ethereal space, with seating for more than 800, and held two ceremonies to accommodate the more than 150 students and their guests.
Koot asked students beforehand how they felt about attending grad on campus and most were excited. “I had one student, however, who said at first when she found out she was graduating here it wasn’t what she was expecting. But the minute she walked into the gym it totally changed her mind. I think it shows the payoff of all the work and the effort that went into making it special. It was something that was done to feel different, classy, and elegant.”
COVID-19 restrictions meant there were no inside ceremonies in 2020 and 2021 and King’s made the best of it by hosting drive-through grads outside of the main entrance rather than skipping the ceremonies altogether. It paved the way for 2022.
“We’ve been apart as a broader community for too long and it really felt good to celebrate with people and students in our space.” Vice-President Academic and Research Kris Ooms says. “Celebrating on campus means we were celebrating the campus in a way.”
There were some changes made this year to previous years such as faculty remaining on stage for the first time. “This made it more personal with handshakes and hugging as they were able to interact with students in the moment,” Ooms says.
Another change was that speeches from dignitaries were pre-recorded and made available for viewing online; the two ceremonies made it more manageable for time with education students graduating in the afternoon and all others in the morning. Families enjoyed the opportunity to visit campus—some for the first time—as they spread out to take photos and mingle.
With the success of this year’s grad, and the athletics banquet a month beforehand, Koot hopes to continue to use campus to host big events and conferences in style.