Grad's mom wishes for a ceremony

Grad's mom wishes for a ceremony

Anne McQuillin has a son graduating in accounting this month from the University of Illinois, but she won't be making the trip from Libertyville for a commencement ceremony.

Not yet anyway.

The College of Business and five other UI colleges honor their winter graduates at the spring convocation in May. Not in December.

That does not make McQuillen happy.

"I called 18 other universities, and every business school has convocation ceremonies," McQuillin said this week. "The University of Illinois is extremely expensive. They can do all these improvements, but you can't let the kids do a graduation ceremony? It's just wrong."

The College of Business had a winter convocation until 2008, but dwindling interest prompted administrators to cancel it. More than 85 percent of students eligible chose to go through graduation with their frends in May rather than at the smaller winter ceremony, said Dean Larry DeBrock. About 140 students are graduating this semester, meaning only a handful would likely show up, he said.

"There's just not enough demand from the students to do it," DeBrock said.

Larger colleges that host winter ceremonies, such as Engineering or Liberal Arts and Sciences, have several hundred students going through graduation in December, he said.

Some colleges host graduation receptions, but six — Applied Health Science, Business, Education, Fine and Applied Arts, Law, and Veterinary Medicine — have no ceremonies scheduled this month, officials said.

Campus spokeswoman Robin Kaler said students are told when they enroll that commencement is held each May. Individual colleges can host a winter ceremony, but it's up to them.

McQuillin thinks the UI should have a campuswide policy, rather than letting colleges "pick and choose."

Her son Michael, who is graduating a semester early, has a job lined up in Chicago next August but may be overseas in the spring, so he likely won't be back for May commencement.

McQuillin suggested the college hold a joint ceremony with Engineering, if nothing else.

"My son is in a fraternity, and there's 10 guys graduating this semester just in his house alone," she said. "Throw up a few more chairs and let these kids have a ceremony."

Kaler said there's been little interest among the colleges in a combined ceremony. If business students were clamoring for a winter ceremony, the college would host one, she said.

McQuillins has planned a "huge party" for her son at a restaurant in Wilmette. But it's not the same, she said.

"Every kid deserves to put on a cap and gown and have that pride, and their parents do, too," she said. "It's a family effort to get these kids through school."

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