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U of T celebrates its newest graduates

Convocation begins June 4, 2013

The University of Toronto welcomes students, family, friends and alumni to 25 Convocation ceremonies this spring (photo by U of T News)

This June, the University of Toronto will celebrate more than 12,500 students graduating as the class of 2013.

“It’s a bittersweet moment,” says Rida Anmol, who will be graduating with her Honours Bachelor of Science. “There’s a sense of accomplishment but I’m also going to miss being part of the U of T student community.”

Anmol will be attending one of the 25 Convocation ceremonies held over three weeks beginning June 4. She says her four years at U of T were a “love affair,” ignited by her involvement in the First Year Learning Community (FLC). FLC is a program that connects first-year students with faculty, peer mentors and staff members to help the transition to university, and Anmol was a senior peer mentor this past year.

“U of T did a lot for me, both academically and in terms of finding myself,” says Anmol. “FLC played a huge role in helping me build my university community.”

Ensuring that graduates such as Anmol have a successful Convocation means that Silvia Rosatone, U of T’s Director of Convocation, and her office begin planning more than a year in advance.

Working with dozens of academic and administrative units across the three campuses, preparation includes everything from ordering the paper for the diplomas, distributing thousands of tickets and organizing the University Readers who will present the students at each ceremony.

More than 56,000 people are expected to come to campus during Convocation and the largest ceremony (St. Michael’s College) will have more than 560 graduates in attendance. It is the role of Rosatone and her team to ensure there is a seat for each guest, to shepherd the Academic Procession to the stage and to ensure that graduating students are wearing the correct regalia. 

“Each degree also has its own unique hood, which means we have over 70 different hoods to distribute to the over 9,800 graduates who are expected to attend,” says Rosatone.

U of T staff member Mike Morrow will be wearing a hood lined in chartreuse satin when he receives his Master of Education degree, with a focus on Leadership in Higher Education. Morrow is a Senior Instructional Technology Analyst with the Education Commons at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at U of T, and says although balancing work and part-time graduate studies was challenging, the support he received from his colleagues and supervisors, as well as family and friends, made his success possible.

“It still feels a little unreal at the moment,” Morrow says. “I’m looking forward to sitting in Convocation Hall, with my family present and having the realization of attaining my degree and the feeling of accomplishment settle in more fully. Then celebrating, of course!”

As part of the Convocation ceremonies, U of T will be conferring honorary degrees on 11 leaders in science, business, technology and the community. Recipients include U of T alumna, astronomer and Gruber Cosmology Prize winner Wendy Freedman who will be honoured for her ground-breaking work on the measurement of the Hubble constant.

Indian innovator and entrepreneur Sam Pitroda will be recognized for his visionary and innovative public policy initiatives that have revolutionized the state of telecommunications in India.

Also honoured will be U of T alumnus William T. Reeves for his pioneering work at Pixar Animation Studios. By combining the art of animation and computational science, Reeves has transformed the technology of filmmaking and entertained children and adults the world over.

U of T will also be awarding honorary degrees to: past U of T president and physicist Robert J. Birgeneau, computer scientist William A. Buxton, international development expert Paul Cadario, psychologist Frederic (Eric) Jackman, chemist Stuart A. Rice, sustainable energy innovator Donald Sadoway, and community leader Susan Scace.

The popular Convocation Plaza will be set up on Front Campus, offering graduating students and their guests a place to celebrate before and after the event. Only steps from Convocation Hall, the plaza is an ideal spot to enjoy a refreshment while watching a live stream of the ceremonies.

This will be the first spring Convocation presided over by Chancellor Michael Wilson, who began his term in July 2012.