Blogs > Cliopatria > Graduation at a 2-year campus

May 19, 2004 4:14 am


Graduation at a 2-year campus



One of the campuses I teach at is a 2-year campus, the University of Wisconsin—Barron County. We had commencement for the Associates degree this late afternoon. Of the 70 odd graduates about 35 took part in the ceremony. Their families filled up much of the small auditorium. Faculty and staff took up most of the rest.

It was a good ceremony, if a bit unorthodox. For the procession in, some bagpipers led the way. The faculty followed, about half in gowns, the rest in coat and tie, dresses, whatever. We had one retiring faculty member, an art professor who had been on the campus for 35 years, the vast majority of its existence as an institution. Usually he is one of the bagpipers. Today he gave a speech and sang a song.

We’ve been losing a lot of musical talent to retirement. Last year one of our biologists retired and he had been our best (if not only) accordion player. No accordion, no bagpiper. What next?

As the dean (the campus CEO) said we hit the trifecta this evening. We had three speakers. Don (the retiree), an alumnus who has been teaching some in Nepal, and a very energetic historian who is now president of Northland College who spoke of the voices left in places by the people who lived or worshipped or fought or learned in those places. All three were good; none went too long.

Degrees were awarded. Then all were piped outside, and people milled about taking pictures and exchanging congratulations, sipping a little punch and looking around in the combination auditorium lobby and art gallery.

I can romanticize this place too much. We have personality conflicts, battles over political correctness, sometimes sharp disagreements over curriculum, and many of the other plagues of campuses everywhere.. We are a small campus, and it is all too easy to feel like the simplest sneeze of a Madison bureaucrat or downstate legislator could wipe out our budget line.

But, man, this was a great class of students. And we did a good job teaching them.




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Ed Schmitt - 5/20/2004

Oscar - This is a great post that reminds me of what the profession of teaching in higher education - for all its frustrations and limitations - should be about. Enjoy your summer - you deserve it.

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