By Dale Miller
The University of Calgary alumni grew by 5,000 graduates this week, swelling its ranks to well over the 100,000 mark achieved at last year’s convocation.
In spite of the pomp and circumstance of the first ceremony on Monday June 7, the rows of faculty and alumni alike were sprinkled with red Flames jerseys in support of Calgary’s ill-fated hockey team. Tuesday was a different story, however, as the U of C Rooster Blues Band played tribute to our fallen heroes with a somber rendition of “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.”
Unlike the disappointed Flames, this year’s U of C graduates did indeed receive the fruits of their four to ten years of hard work. Dr. Harvey Weingarten, President and Vice-Chancellor of the U of C had some words of praise and advice to offer the new alumni.
“I don’t have anything particularly inspirational for you today, but I will say this: We are incredibly proud of you and mindful that you represent our future. Go out there, make a difference, do good, remember us and bring some comfort and peace into the world,” he said.
Among the graduates on Monday was the infamous Wil Holden who received a PhD in Geography to become the well respected Dr. Wil Holden. This will also mark his transformation from being an economics instructor at the U of C to having a tenure track position in the Department of Geography.
“Convocating was a big thrill for me. It took me a very long time to get my PhD and I had to work very hard,” said Dr. Holden. “Nevertheless, it was exciting to get to wear the doctoral robes and to be the second person across the stage.
“It felt good to see so many former students of mine receive their degrees at the same ceremony,” he added. “When the president asked those who had contributed to other’s degrees to stand I was very proud.”
Dr. Holden refers to the portion of the ceremony where employees of the university were asked to stand and be recognized for their contribution. In a more formal gesture, six university staff members were admitted to The Order of the University of Calgary, while six people with extraordinary achievement in community, national or international service were award honourary degrees. Among these was Canadian Lieutenant-General Romeo Dallaire, of international peacemaking, peacekeeping and peacebuilding fame, who gave the convocation address in his distinctly military power-talking style.
“Welcome to the leadership strata you have now joined in this great nation,” proclaimed LGen. Dallaire. “This is a nation who must go beyond ourselves as it no longer suffices to just take care of Canada–we are at a crossroads, and we must lead. Go out, get your boots dirty and lead this great nation.”