Recently, University President Gary Roberts chose to remove the guest speaker from commencement ceremonies for the near future. Some students are pretty disappointed, but many understand the need to cut down on the long duration of graduation.
If the ceremony is shortened to two hours or less, this will make it easier for all parties involved: students, faculty and staff, administration and even families. Reasonable changes, such as the one to remove the commencement speaker, are right when they’re in the best interest of students.
Further, it’s not as if there will be no speakers at all. A member of the graduating class, the president and possibly an alumnus will make speeches during the ceremony. Bringing in another speaker, unless they will truly add value in a way that can’t be done by the other speakers, will just disappoint and annoy those in attendance.
The president said he is not opposed to having a commencement speaker if someone actually famous wants to speak at Bradley. This isn’t very likely, but it could happen. While they weren’t dubbed “commencement speakers,” actor and comedian Bill Cosby and professional baseball player Hank Aaron spoke at graduation ceremonies in the early 2000s.
But, celebrity or not, the speaker does not hold much importance.
Graduation is really about the families and the students who are graduating. So, a commencement speaker isn’t going to add much except a half hour more of mind-numbing boredom.
The graduates at least have the diploma and handshake to look forward to. It must be absolute drudgery for the parents, families and friends trapped peering around trying to find their loved ones.
Our attention spans are short, and as students, we are remarkably skilled at tuning out things we think don’t apply or relate to us. We’ve all learned how to appear perfectly attentive while whatever we’re listening to goes straight in one ear and out the other from 16+ years of school experience.
Having a shorter ceremony is a win-win situation, and if this shows that the administration isn’t opposed to change, that’s a good thing.