U of M to hold in-person convocation for 2020 and 2021

Students previously had virtual ceremony due to COVID-19

The University of Manitoba has announced that it will hold an in-person convocation ceremony at the end of this academic year for students who graduated in 2020 and 2021.

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, students from the classes of 2020 and 2021 were forced to move their convocation ceremony online.

“While we aimed to give [graduating students] the best remote convocation that we could during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, we know it cannot replace an in-person event where your friends and family could see you take the stage and receive your parchment,” University of Manitoba president Michael Benarroch said in an online statement announcing the in-person convocation.

“The time for that long-awaited celebration is now here!” the statement read.

Diane Hiebert-Murphy, provost and vice-president academic at the University of Manitoba, said that although she thinks students appreciated the virtual ceremony, she agreed with Benarroch that “it just wasn’t the same.”

“We think it’s time to give those students who graduated during the pandemic the chance to come together and have that kind of convocation experience,” she said.

She explained that for many students, an in-person convocation is “a ritual that has a lot of meaning.”

“Some students really appreciate having that opportunity to celebrate with their peers, other students who have been part of their cohort that they’ve been on this journey with,” she said.

The ceremony will be held on March 11 and 12, 2023 at the RBC Convention Centre.

Registration for the event will open up following fall convocation ceremonies happening this month.

Hiebert-Murphy said that planning for the event will “begin in earnest” once the school has a better idea of how many students want to attend.

“The experience of other universities has certainly been that they get a very good response, and for us at U of M, many of our grads are still here physically in the province, and so their ability to come in-person I think is there,” she said. “So I’m sort of anticipating that we will have a fairly good response.”

Other Canadian universities such as Wilfrid Laurier University and the University of British Columbia are also offering in-person ceremonies for students who graduated while schools operated remotely.

Hiebert-Murphy said the university is simply responding to feedback from students about “their desire to come together and have that in-person experience.”

“Some of the feedback that we did get from students was that they really missed the opportunity to have an in-person convocation experience,” she said.

“For many students, it really is the pinnacle of their time at the university, recognizing the success of them having completed their programs,” she continued.

“Having that opportunity to don the cap and gown, and have their name announced and cross the stage, and have family and friends present to cheer them on was really something that they missed.”