It’s that time of year again.

Academia runs on a predictable yearly cycle that I’ve come to love. It starts with a great roar in the fall and ends in the renewed beauty of spring with the ritual of Convocation.

Rituals are powerful. They nail down meaning. They say, in essence, make sure you pause and think about what is happening today, this is important!

What are the key milestones of a life well lived? What marks the passage to adulthood in our modern societies? What is a parent’s proudest moment?

There are more than one answer to these questions, granted, but who would deny that Convocation is a likely candidate for each?

Convocation. The name itself evokes a call to gather together that cannot be ignored. For our students it marks a long-expected ending.  Perhaps even more poignantly, it opens the door to a new beginning.

We must always, always be at the beginning of something. This is one of the key secrets to life. But let’s take time to mark endings as well, for there are no beginnings without endings.

Celebrating convocation with great pomp and circumstance, with bagpipes and honorary degrees and full regalia, serves a purpose.

The university reconnects with its medieval roots, a time where knowledge was less readily available and precious.

Academia, often confined to cramped archives or neon-lit labs, gets to show its full splendour. It is a time to take pride in the beauty and power of the modern University.

And most importantly, the achievement of our students is celebrated as significant achievements should be: with extra flair.

I regret that I did not attend my own undergraduate Convocation. It was a tough time for me and I just could not conceive that I could be worthy of recognition. Graduating students, please don’t make that mistake! Let yourself be honoured and enjoy every minute!

As I get older I welcome each spring with gratitude, and what better way to honour each spring I am granted than with our graduating students, wishing them well on their journey to a self-determined, purposeful and successful life.

I hope to see you at one of our nine Spring Convocation Ceremonies, from June 10 to 14!

P15 - On the Meaning and Power of Convocation

President Benoit-Antoine Bacon congratulates students as they cross the stage during the Fall Convocation Ceremonies in 2018.