New Instructional Technology: Big Brother or Beneficial?

November 18, 2010 Leave a comment

An increasing number of professors at universities and colleges around the country are taking advantage of “clickers”–wireless, hand-held devices students use to indicate they are present and on time, paying attention by answering questions the teacher poses on a projector, and whether or not they understand a concept in the lecture.

There are certainly upsides and downsides to the technology. Many schools require students to pay for the devices themselves. Read more…


University of Florida Graduates Thousands: Coordinating One of the Biggest Graduation Events in the US

November 10, 2010 Leave a comment

University of Florida ranks among America’s largest post-secondary institutions. To give you an idea of its size, previous universities I wrote about, such as Southern Methodist University and University of Miami, have student populations around 16,000, while UF’s is over 50,000! Donna Stricker, UF’s Commencement Coordinator, reveals how she has not only overseen the successful completion of various ceremonies, but has also managed to keep them all under ninety minutes long, as she is constantly mindful of the family members and friends who attend.

Read more…

In With the Old and In With the New: How University of Miami Keeps Commencement Fresh

November 3, 2010 1 comment

When coordinating graduation, every school works to tie in its own unique traditions. While University of Miami is no different in this regard, as an eighty-five-year-old school (a youth by university standards), UM works not only to infuse its ceremonies with a sense of history but also to invigorate them with a new and creative ending every year! Allison Gillespie, who oversees and executes all university commencement exercises, gave me the inside scoop on what makes University of Miami’s commencement ceremonies so special. Read more…

College Students Find a Calling – What Career Dreams Mean in this Economy

October 26, 2010 Leave a comment

We all have encountered the stereotypical college student who has no idea what he or she will do come graduation day. He or she has claimed “undecided” or has changed his or her major for the umpteenth time. But according to studies conducted by University of Florida and University of Maine, these stereotypes may be unfounded. In fact, they indicate that a large percentage of college students have a career calling that is guiding them throughout their academic careers.

University of Florida psychology professor Ryan Duffy, in the university’s article on the study, asserted that a strong focus on a specific career path or goal early in one’s education correlates with academic success in the present and workplace success in the future. Read more…

Student Atheletes Graduating in Strong Numbers

October 19, 2010 Leave a comment

Often times, schools have been pressured to focus more on academics and less on sports, or vice-versa. Athletic students have often been stereotyped as being less academically engaged or successful. So one might be surprised to learn that at University of North Carolina – Asheville (UNC-A) and New Mexico State (NMSU), student athletes are more likely to graduate than any other students. NCU-A takes pride in the fact that its student athletes, who have a 98% graudation rate, have been surpassing the national average since 2001. Jason Groves, in his article for the La Cruces Sun News, notes that the establishment of the Graduation Success Rate and APR (Academic Progress Rate ), has played a major role in this phenomenon. Not only are coaches being hired based on their team’s successes, but on how well their athletes perform academically, as, according to NMSU’s Associate Athletic Director, a school’s “president can look back and see what [a coach’s] APR score was at their old school,” and “It can be the difference between if they hire you or the next person.”

UNC-A stresses, its coaches’ and other faculty’s focus on ensuring athletes’ academic success. “The athletic department and the university work with student athletes who need another semester or more to graduate,” Janet Cone, athletics director at UNC-A states.Other staff note that UNC-A’s unique “academic atmosphere” is a major ingredient in the school’s recipe for success. In the end, it seems, that separating sports from academics is no longer an option with measurements like the GSR and APR allowing prospective students and parents to see, for a particular school, an athlete’s likelihood of graduating. “We are all trying to improve graduation rates,” Cone said. “We’re trying to recruit students first and athletes second.”

In Sanhedrin High’s Commencement, Every Graduate Gets a Valedictory Speech

October 12, 2010 Leave a comment

Sanhedrin High School, an alternative school in rural town called Willits in Northern California, was established in 1989 for students seeking alternatives to Willits High School’s curricula. With a 1:12 teacher to student ratio (about half the national average), Sanhedrin can give students (especially those with learning disabilities), the specialized attention they need. The word “Sanhedrin” is rooted in the Greek synedrion, meaning “sitting together,” and was used to describe the assembly of twenty-three judges appointed in the Biblical Land of Israel. A fitting name for a school with a graduating class of twenty students, that, due to its size and unique community, has tackled challenges and developed traditions associated with commencement in its own idiosyncratic way. Read more…

Walking Through the Rotunda and Back Again – Southern Methodist University’s 100-Year Legacy

October 5, 2010 1 comment

Southern Methodist School, founded in 1911, and opened in 1915, soon to be a century old, naturally, holds a graduation ceremony steeped in unique traditions. I interviewed Gretchen C. Voight, SMU’s Director of Academic Ceremonies, responsible for overseeing everything short of selecting the Commencement  speaker, to uncover how a school with a student population of 11,000 coordinates commencement smoothly, honors its finest students, and carries on its unique traditions as it approaches its one hundred-year anniversary!

Read more…