As promised, I’m (belatedly) posting about my brother’s UCLA business school graduation. One aspect of the graduation that I found rather amusing the fact that UCLA often has multiple graduations on the same day, each one in a different courtyard. So in the middle of someone’s speech, you might hear a loud yell, indicating that three hundred medical students or comparative literature doctoral candidates are throwing their hats in the air somewhere across campus. I also enjoyed watching the lone security guard standing at the top of the steps that went up behind the tent where the business school graduation speakers spoke, having to confront the people trying to come down the steps and shoo them away.
Another amusing parts of the graduation was the “hooding ceremony” that they do for the dozen or so doctoral candidates. Someone would announce the topic of the person’s dissertation — something like “Three essays on marketing emergence binary value quotas” — and then their faculty advisor would put their sparkling new velvet blue and yellow hood over the person. Though of course the hood would often get caught on their hair or glasses or something. After four years, the hooding is stopped short because it gets caught on your glasses – how anticlimactic! I know it seems like no big deal, but the hood and the cool robes that they give you to wear at future commencements, and hooding ceremony itself, somehow makes getting a PhD more attractive. It’s like it brands you, “here’s one of the world experts in this topic.” It’s a mint on your pillow-style psychology trick, because, of course, the PhD involves four to ten years of hard study, not to mention the writing of a document with a title like “Three essays on marketing emergence binary value quotas.” The husband of the woman next to us was one of these doctoral students, and the woman told us that the whole PhD get-up, robe and hood, cost $700.
In typical business school fashion, to make the diploma hand-offs for 360 people more efficient, they rig up this Rube Goldberg contraption in which each person carries a card with his or her name on it, gets in one of two lines at each end of the stage, and the first person in line hands the card to the announcer, the announcers on each side trade off speaking the names, and when your name is called you receive your diploma from the person giving them out on your side of the stage and get your picture taken with that person. On the stage right side you got your diploma from the dean, but on the stage left side other side you got it from the commencement speaker, the head of Johnson and Johnson, which I think would be not nearly as meaningful, considering the dean was your dean for two years and the Johnson and Johnson guy just kind of waltzed in there that day to give a speech.
And finally, my brother gave a really great commencement address, which you can see here: