London celebrations

To finish! Western University applauds return of in-person graduation ceremonies

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This week marks the start of 8,000 reasons to celebrate a return to normal academic life at Western University.

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Monday is the start of in-person convocations at Alumni Hall, with 8,000 students expected to graduate from more than 20 ceremonies through June 24.

It’s a welcome return to campus for students and their families who have endured some of the most difficult academic experiences over the past two years during the pandemic, when much of routine college life has been disrupted.

Additionally, the university will award 18 honorary degrees, recognizing leaders in the fields of health, science, business and media. Local winners include Gillian Kernaghan, retired CEO of St. Joseph’s Health Care, Tony Dagnone, retired director of London Health Sciences Centre, and John Davidson, who started Jesse’s Journey, now called Defeat Duchenne Canada, raising funds and awareness with his son Jesse for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy research.

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Not to forget, 2020 and 2021 graduates, who had to make do with virtual convocation ceremonies in their graduation years, have been invited to return to Western for on-campus celebrations July 4-8, or at a future summons.

“This is one of the highlights of the academic year,” said Florentine Strzelczyk, Western’s new provost and vice president (academic), who took office on May 1. “To see (the graduates) walk through the stage every year is a real highlight and a real treat. And I’m so happy to be able to be there at a time when we’re back in person.

Strzelczyk, who first came to Canada as an international student as a scholar of European history and the German language, comes to Western after serving as president and vice president (academic) at Memorial University of Earth Newfoundland and, prior to that, held several academic and administrative roles at the University of Calgary.

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She’s especially excited about working at Western, which she calls “Canada’s most iconic campus,” and looks forward to the graduation celebrations.

She said she was drawn to Western because of its “bold vision”.

“It’s a place where I want to be and I want to contribute to that rise and turn bold ambitions and aspirations into reality,” she said.

Already, the university hosted graduation earlier this month for graduates of the Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry, and in March a special graduation was held for Indigenous students, who are also invited to attend regular convocation ceremonies for their academic programs.

Indigenous diversity and identity will be honored at each ceremony, with a student representative wearing an Indigenous gonfalon and tan moccasins. The moccasin ceremony was introduced during the virtual ceremony last fall and remembers children whose remains were found at residential school sites.

All in-person attendees will be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 and wear masks. All ceremonies will be broadcast live.

Fanshawe College London graduation ceremonies are scheduled for June 20-22 in central London.

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