One of my colleges just installed a new president. This was accompanied by a 2.5 hour ceremony, complete with some 15 different speakers, academic regalia, strings, brass, choruses, and presentations in at least six different languages.
My question is: what is the benefit to the institution? I am asking this question hoping for a response, although I start from a position of skepticism; I have attended a grand total of two college graduations, neither of which were for any of my three academic degrees. So it could be that I just need an attitude adjustment.
Here are my speculative answers, with lingering questions in parentheses:
- It serves to introduce the president to the University (But he has been in the community for over 40 years, and his remarks at the ceremony comprised only a small percentage of the ceremony).
- It serves to introduce the president to the larger academic community–many of the attendees were from other schools (See remarks above).
- It serves to create a spirit of cohesion at the University (But not a lot of students were there – I estimated that most people there were alumni, administration, monks, or faculty. Also, it seems like there would have to be regular meetings like these in order to add up to a significant change in student attitude).
- Any excuse to celebrate is enough to justify a celebration (Okay, but why do we only have these ceremonies when we change presidents? Why not have celebrations monthly?)
- It is tradition. (This evades the question–not all traditions are good. We should be able to justify the ceremony with some other reason if we are going to justify such an expense).
I would sincerely like to hear a response to my questions. I understand that my point of view is sometimes, well, odd, and I would enjoy understanding how others think about this.
Edit: On Facebook, one of my students pointed out that classes were cut short on the day of the ceremony. This further emphasizes the need to provide evidence that this ceremony is useful, since students pay for it in lost class time.