I like rituals. I think they hold some value–especially when they commemorate beginnings and endings. Today we held commencement for the School of Informatics (I link with shame to our desperately confused website). It was a bit confused, but all worked out in the end.
The picture is of me, Chiung-Wen Hsu, who defended her dissertation last week (a comparison of attitudes toward online privacy, privacy statements on websites, and public policy in the US, Holland, Taiwan, and China), and Chun-ta Peng, who is one of my masters students and will be defending his thesis (a study on motivations of lurkers and posters on a BBS) shortly.
The funny thing is that Julia (Chiung-Wen) was the exception. Most of the students hadn’t yet finished everything needed for graduation. I understand this of course, things don’t always line up at the end of the year, especially for graduate students. But it’s a little funny nonetheless.
It’s particularly strange for the Masters in Informatics students. None of them are done–nor could they be. At a minimum, it is a 3 semester program, and most finish in the summer. So when it turns out only a handful showed for commencement, it’s hardly shocking.
What we need is a hook. A tradition that is unique to the school. And I don’t mean our lame Venn-diagram logo. (I’m sorry, Dave, I know you like it, and I know Wolf Blitzer likes it, but I think it is cringingly uncompelling.) We need something of a mascot, something we can all gather around. After all, our school is something like a new marriage, but we have nothing old, borrowed, or blue.