MRU phasing out the tradition of valedictorians at convocation
By Ryleigh Kampman, Staff Writer
For years, many MRU alumni have a distinct memory of their graduating class’ valedictorian sending them off at convocation. Usually, an inspiring address to commemorate all the blood, sweat and tears students have put into their expensive piece of paper, followed by some cliche to send them off into the ‘real world.’
Recent changes have been made to phase out this tradition and prioritize the Centennial Gold award.
In the past, valedictorian nominees were given consideration for their GPA — students had to have a cumulative GPA of 3.2 or higher. They were also given preference for their involvement in campus and community activities. The criteria from MRU also stated that “candidates should have strong public speaking skills.”
A statement from Associate Vice-President, Enrolment Management & Registrar, has indicated a change to student acknowledgment at convocation — the criteria are being critiqued.
The statement, written by Phil Warsaba, Associate Vice-President, Enrolment Management & Registrar reads, “The most compelling reason for the change is that the valedictorian selection process was deemed to be inequitable, as it excludes viable candidates on the basis of public speaking ability. Committee members felt that academic achievement and contributions to MRU and associated communities are of greater importance in selecting the most accomplished nominee.”
These changes took place on Nov. 22, 2018, a decision made by the GFC Student Awards Committee. Plans for this transition were seeded in previous discussions during the 2017 and 2018 academic years.
Alexandra Daignault, the last valedictorian of her graduating class of Fall 2018, is excited about a more inclusive process. Daignault adds, “However, I wonder what the impacts of absenting student voice, in such memorable moments, might be.
“I’m grateful to have been given the opportunity to represent my class and cohort,” she adds.
Now, each academic year will feature one Centennial Gold Medal recipient for each credit faculty.
As for the process, it will remain largely the same.
“The recipients will attend either the Spring or Fall convocation ceremonies. The award will be presented to students in a similar fashion to the Governor General’s awards and to the Professor Emeriti distinctions.”
The convocation program and the university website will feature the recipients and their accomplishments, the students will sit in the front row of the platform party and the Provost will introduce the students to attendees and will invite them to the podium to receive their plaques and medals as well as to take pictures.