University of Toronto welcomes grads, families and friends to Convocation 2014

Sub-title: 
Celebrating the achievements of more than 12,500 students
Author: 
Shujanaa Mahendraraja

They’ve conducted research here at home and around the world, put theory to the test with service learning projects in the community, launched their own companies and volunteered their non-existent free time for events and projects aimed at making the city a better place to live.

Now, they’re graduating.

Over the next 14 days, more than 12,500 students will cross the stage at Convocation Hall to become the University of Toronto’s newest alumni. But with many graduates already at work or volunteering across Canada and around the world, it's impossible to predict the exact number. 

Wade Sahni, who graduates with an MBA from U of T’s Rotman School of Management, just finished climbing Tanzania’s Mount Kilimanjaro with classmate Deep Grewall. He was raising money and awareness for Kilimanjaro Young Girls In Need (KYGN).

Since his descent, he’s been working at the KYGN school, “painting the new building, working with the children, teaching them their numbers and playing with them and just trying to create a positive environment for them in which to grow. It’s been an amazing experience,” he told U of T News reporter Terry Lavender over Skype.

If he doesn’t return in time for his Convocation June 20, Sahni will definitely be back in town by August 1 when he starts working for the Promontory Financial Group in Toronto. But his connections with KYGN won’t end – he’ll be working on getting it Canadian charitable status.

From June 3 to June 20, U of T expects to host more than 43, 000 family and friends at 25 ceremonies held at the downtown campus. Convocation Plaza, the elegant marquee where faculty, guests and graduates can gather and mingle, returns again this year, complete with Convocation Café for snacks and refreshments, a seating area where guests can watch a live stream of the ceremonies, and a Special Photo Backdrops & Video Corner allowing graduates to take personalized photos and videos to commemorate their special day.

"Everyone in the University community looks forward to seeing our graduands processing into Convocation Hall and celebrating with their families and friends,” said Bryn MacPherson, assistant vice-president, Office of the President. “For President Gertler, Chancellor Wilson, and all the faculty and staff, Convocation is a high point of the year, seeing our newest alumni launched into the next phase of their lives.”

Organizers are also working to ensure new grads and their friends can share their experiences with a Social Wall in Convocation Plaza – a social stream of content from Twitter and Instagram that will be projected on one of the screens. The stream will pull from posts tagged with #UofTGrad14 and #UofT.

“Social media moves so fast – every year we have better platforms and technologies to celebrate grads and help them tell the world about their big day,” said Kristina Doyle, marketing and online communications coordinator, “The mash-up of tradition and technology is a lot of fun.”

Throughout Convocation, the University will also celebrate the remarkable accomplishments of a diverse range of honorary graduates: Peter Stein; David Brillinger; Ronald Daniels; Indira SamarasakeeraAnnabel Patterson; and Mychael Danna.

Academy Award-winning film composer Danna is renowned for his evocative blending of non-western traditions with orchestral and electronic music. His highly awarded works include the Oscar-winning score for Ang Lee’s Life of Pi, and his many Genie Award-winning scores for director, longtime collaborator and fellow U of T alumnus, Atom Egoyan.

One of Canada’s leading Metallurgical Engineers, Indira Samarasakera  is now in her second term as president and vice-chancellor of the University of Alberta. She is a Foreign Associate of the National Academy of Engineering, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, the Canadian Academy of Engineering, the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum (CIMM) and an honorary member of AIME (American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical and Petroleum Engineers) and was awarded the Order of Canada in 2002 for her outstanding contributions to steel process engineering.

Yale Sterling Professor Annabel Patterson has written sixteen books and about seventy refereed articles on topics as varied as Holinshed’s Chronicles, eighteenth-century libel law,  the reception of Virgil’s eclogues in Europe, editions of Aesop’s fables, censorship, liberalism, parliamentary history, as well as Shakespeare, Milton, Donne, John Locke, and Andrew Marvell, whose canon she has helped to reshape. Among the awards and recognitions the U of T alumna has received are: a Guggenheim Fellowship, a senior fellowship at the Society of Humanities, Cornell University, the Andrew Mellon Chair of the Humanities at Duke, a Mellon Fellowship, National Humanities Center, and a Mellon Emeritus Fellowship at Yale. 

Stein, the critically acclaimed German theatre, film and opera director, is known for his landmark stagings of such productions as Edward Bond’s Saved, Schiller’s Wallenstein and Shakespeare’s King Lear. While in Toronto, Stein will take part in a number of public events, including a symposium on the art of directing, with Egoyan at University College: (http://celebratingpeterstein.weebly.com/events.html)

Brillinger, a world-renowned statistical scientist whose work has contributed to the fields of ecology, forestry, animal and marine biology, neuroscience, seismology and engineering, attended the University of Toronto Schools before enrolling at U of T. During his ceremony, Brillinger will be hooded by his former UTS math teacher and U of T Professor emeritus, Bruce McLean, who is 103 years old.

Daniels, the president of Johns Hopkins University and a former Dean of the Faculty of Law at the University of Toronto is the founder or co-founder of such programs as the Pro Bono Students Canada, Law in Action Within Schools, and the organization International Lawyers and Economists against Poverty. 

Guest speakers at the ceremonies will include such leaders as world renowned linguistics professor and founding director of the Centre for Aboriginal Initiatives at U of T, Keren Rice and entrepreneur and STS Capital Partners founder, Rob Follows.