A Glimpse Behind the Pomp and Circumstance

Though Haverford’s commencement ceremony is held in May, planning for the occasion begins the previous November. College Communications staff members are part of the committee that manages issues as diverse as the selection of faculty marshals and the arrangement of the chairs and podium. Many offices are involved in commencement, with staff from the president’s office, registrar, safety and security, facilities, bookstore and student activities ensuring that commencement is an inspiring event.

Here in College Communications, our primary (and most visible) responsibility is the printed commencement program booklet. This list of graduates’ names and degrees requires considerable planning and coordination in order to make sure that the program is complete and accurate.

One exciting element of the program is the inclusion of titles from each senior’s capstone project, which is usually a thesis.  Families invariably gain fresh perspective on both their graduate’s personal academic activity as well as the breadth and depth of the class’s experience overall. On one page alone, titles range from “An Efficient Six-Five Ring Contraction of Silyl Enol Ethers with Nonalflyl Azide” to “Food for Curiosity: The Liberating Forces of Travel and Writing for Aristocratic Women in Late Eighteenth-Century England.”

Commencement Program

The program also lists honorary degree recipients, honor societies, College honors, fellowships, prizes and awards. Much of this information is not finalized or released until just before the program is approved for print the Thursday prior to the commencement ceremony.

It’s a race to the finish and there’s some burning of the midnight oil, but it’s all worth it in the end as we celebrate the accomplishments of Haverford’s most recent graduates.