The graduation ceremonies always mark the close of the academic year. Held in The McEwan Hall, a great trifle of an edifice built (as the Vice Chancellor of the University likes to remind us in his graduation speeches) from the proceeds of beer.
The ceremonies resonate with a sense of achievement – almost as loudly as the 1897 Robert Hope Jones organ that accompanies the Academic Procession (Grieg – Huldigungsmarsch). I always enjoy the comforting repetition of tradition that the ceremonies embody: the robing up (mine is a resplendent, late twentieth-century robe of office in imperial purple, embroidered with bees and roses), the call to order and hasty meeting of Senate to officially award the degrees, the orchestrated rally of graduating students through the podium, the echoing rounds of applause for parents and supporters, and the moving clarity of the University choir (Parry – Music when soft voices die and Scottish anon 16th century – O lusty May). For a neo-romantic like me it’s Mr Chips meets The Student Prince: pure and present nostalgia.
Today we honoured retired ECA Student Welfare Officer and Student Union General Manager, Graham Dey, and Orcadian jeweler, Sheila Fleet, poured champagne for graduating students and their parents in the College’s Sculpture Court and the Reid Concert Hall, and joined a candle-lit dinner for Honorands in the University’s imposing Playfair Library. Perfect memories for everyone.