The matriculation ceremony provides a common starting point for new students, said Pamela K. Carmines, Ph.D., assistant dean of graduate studies. "At the matriculation ceremony, the students begin to identify some of the people they will be spending time with in class, at least for the first year," she said. "About half of the incoming students attended the matriculation ceremony this year. We hope that word will spread among all of our graduate programs - this will happen every year, and we encourage all of our incoming students to attend the ceremony."
Unlike students in the College of Medicine or the College of Pharmacy, for example, who move through the university in a fairly stable cohort, graduate students branch off to pursue different specialties, earning their degrees at different rates. "The matriculation ceremony is our initial attempt to create a sense of community among graduate students. It gets a little more challenging to try to maintain that community as time goes by," Dr. Carmines said. The planned convocation ceremony provides a means for building a sense of community among these individuals as UNMC graduates.
"After a well-received and successful matriculation ceremony, we are looking forward to the first Graduate Studies convocation ceremony," said H. Dele Davies, M.D., dean of graduate studies. "The graduate studies staff is hard at work on the new ceremony, and I am sure it will be an emotional and memorable evening for our graduating students, as well as their families and friends."
The convocation ceremony will devote a certain amount of time to every graduating M.S. or Ph.D. student. "We will not simply be noting each student's dissertation title and degree program," Dr. Carmines said. "We will also recognize their other accomplishments and the activities they've participated in while at UNMC. They will have surpassed some major hurdles in their education," Dr. Carmines said. The convocation will take note of that, as well as celebrate where the graduates are going as they move into their post-graduate careers.
The ceremony also will feature a new award, the Praesto Award, to be given to the most outstanding or exceptional graduate for the academic year. Dr. Carmines expects to call for nominations within the next month.
There will be a graduate student convocation ceremony associated with every commencement ceremony (December and May). All of the other colleges at UNMC already have convocation ceremonies, Dr. Carmines noted. The ceremony will not duplicate the commencement ceremony, she stressed. For example, Ph.D. graduates will continue to get hooded during commencement. "We don't want to take anything away from commencement," Dr. Carmines said. "We want to add an extra celebration, in a more intimate setting."