Despite U of T’s growing enrolment and the building’s limited capacity, Convocation Hall has been deemed a feasible location in which graduation ceremonies may continue, according to a February report released by the Convocation Advisory Review Committee.
The report was drafted over several months, taking into account the practicality of the university’s current system and examining possible alternatives for venue and logistics.
Convocation Hall has a capacity of 1,700 but current logistics indicate that graduating classes exceed this size, as the total number of graduates has seen an 11 per cent increase from 17,056 in 2013 to approximately 18,981 in 2018.
While the venue for convocation ceremonies remains the same, minor adjustments will be made to programming, specifically to shorten the length of the ceremony. Proposed changes include enforcing time limits on speeches, presenting graduates in alphabetical order as opposed to by level of achievement, and exploring the viability of live captions for the ceremony.
Alumni and recent graduates were asked to participate in a survey regarding their convocation experiences and ways to improve. Student groups were also consulted on possible changes.
Participants and stakeholders mainly expressed concerns regarding venue capacity and accessibility.
Alternate locations for convocation have included the Rogers Centre, Scotiabank Arena, the Enercare Centre, the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, and the Coca Cola Coliseum, all of which would allow for larger capacities and fewer ceremonies.
The Enercare Centre’s capacity of 12,000 people and the Metro Toronto Convention Centre’s capacity of 10,500 people would allow for six and seven ceremonies over three days respectively. Major venues such as the Rogers Centre and Scotiabank Arena were restricted due to other priorities such as sporting events and concerts.
According to the report, there were 35 ceremonies at Con Hall in 2018 — 29 ceremonies in the spring over 11 days, and eight in the fall spanning four days.
Participants ultimately agreed that Convocation Hall played a major role in graduating ceremonies and traditions even if tickets and spaces were limited.
“The committee heard from a large number of people, in strong terms, that Convocation Hall plays a fundamental role in the U of T experience. We agree — that tradition must continue,” said President Meric Gertler to U of T News.
“When graduates and guests exit their convocation ceremony, they are not just on a sidewalk in downtown Toronto, but on King’s College Circle at the heart of the university,” said Bryn MacPherson, co-chair of the Convocation Advisory Review Committee.
“The U of T community really felt a deep attachment and connection to the whole experience.”
Changes are expected to be rolled out for spring convocation.