The College of Arts and Communication held it’s first convocation last Tuesday in the Young Auditorium.
Dean of the College of Arts and Communication Mark McPhail said though the general sense of the term is to come together, he sees it as much more.
“I see it as a ritual for developing a community and coming together around common values,” he said. “We have never done a convocation in the college before, so what I’m doing is trying to establish some rituals for finding our common values and connecting across the college.”
McPhail said though he doesn’t think there’s ever been an event that brought students from the different departments together in one room, it’s important to recognize our connection.
“I think it’s important for us to recognize that even as we are individual departments and different individuals we still have a common commitment as far as the college is concerned.”
Bringing together as many people as possible from the college was the most important aspect of this year’s convocation, according to McPhail.
“It’s not about the pieces of it as much as it is about the spirit behind it,” he said. “To bring that many people from this college together, ultimately that’s the most important thing that happened…it is the act of bring together a diverse group of people and that’s what the convocation is about more than anything.”
According to McPhail, the one major idea he wanted to focus on this year was service.
“I think there’s a lot of very good and very valuable service work that gets done at the college and at the university but it’s not always as visible as the other work that gets done,” he said.
“Obviously we’re all here to teach, we’re all here to do creative research but a lot of people serve and there are a number of people in this college that serve extensively and I wanted that to be acknowledged and recognized.”
McPhail said he feels it’s important the college has a sense of common identity and that led him to speak with his dean’s advisory board last spring about the concept.
“We had some conversations about it last year at our college meeting and people seemed very interested in doing it, so I worked with my staff and we put it together.”
The event took a lot of work and effort over the summer from many people, McPhail said.
“Like any idea, it takes a lot of effort by a lot of people and more often than not, working behind the scenes to make it actually happen,” he said. “We spent some time working on it over the summer and we kind of did a big push when school started and got everything together.”
McPhail said having the event in the Young Auditorium was also significant in itself.
“It was great to have it in the auditorium because the auditorium’s a part of the college too,” he said. “It was really kind of bringing all of the different aspects of the college together.”
Students were asked to sign-in upon entering the Young Auditorium which McPhail said was partly to give credit for convocation points and recital attendance to some students, but most importantly to show his expectations.
“I believe that as the dean of the college that’s reasonable,” he said. “It’s an hour out of people’s lives in support of the college and I hope that people will respect that expectation.”
Though some shared positive feedback to the dean’s initiative, such as Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Tom Rios according to McPhail, some students felt the convocation was a “waste of time.”
Those students said they felt the John Matthews, the keynote speaker, was irrelevant to students from the college and they would have much rather heard the dean speak.
McPhail said he would like to give students, faculty and staff the opportunity to be a part in planning next year’s convocation with one stipulation.
“There’s a whole year between now and next year to make it happen and I think that would be an improvement on it,” he said. “I’d like to give the faculty, students, staff who are interested the opportunity to shape this… as long as they can keep it within an hour, that’s the only constraint I have.”