Spring Convocation a time for celebration

Spring Convocation a time for celebration

May 21, 2015


History and tradition are key parts of life at Queen’s University and they are never more prevalent than during the convocation ceremonies.

This year’s Spring Convocation ceremonies start on Thursday, May 21, and will continue through to Thursday, June 11, with a total of 21 ceremonies being held – all but one at Grant Hall.

In honour of convocation here’s a quick look at some of the history and tradition that will be seen over the coming weeks:

  • The first convocation ceremony at Queen’s took place on June 2, 1847, when the Senate awarded degrees to the university’s first three graduates and was likely held at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church. Subsequent venues have included the Old Medical Building (1858), Convocation Hall in Theological Hall (1878) and Grant Hall (1905).
  • As Queen’s continued to grow, convocation moved to the Jock Harty Arena in the early 1970s while fall ceremonies continued to be held at Grant Hall. With the dismantling of Jock Harty Arena in 2007, Grant Hall once again became the primary host location for spring ceremonies, along with the Queen’s Centre.
  • The main features of each convocation ceremony are a speech to the graduands by the principal, or a senior administrator, a speech by the honorary graduate or guest speaker – a tradition that dates from the granting of the first honorary degree in 1858 – and the granting of degrees by the chancellor. Traditional music includes “Flourish for the Chancellor,” an organ composition written specially for convocation by Queen’s music professor Fred Clarke.
  • Convocations are organized by the Office of the University Registrar. The Office is responsible for the main logistical arrangements and coordinates the work of other departments involved in the ceremony. The Registrar’s Office also compiles the list of graduands and award winners. The Senate Academic Procedures Committee has authority for approving the list of graduands. The Senate Honorary Degrees Committee makes recommendations to the Senate for the award of honorary degrees.
  • At convocation, graduands don the traditional outfit of a gown and hood. At Queen’s, the design and colour scheme of the hood differs depending on the degree earned, e.g. Red-Gold-Blue for Doctor of Philosophy; Queen's Blue-White for Bachelor of Laws; Black-Red for Bachelor of Arts.