For the past 50 years, the University of Saskatchewan has held its convocation ceremonies at the downtown TCU Place. The opening of the Merlis Belsher Place in 2018 gave the university a location large enough to bring convocation back to campus grounds in spring 2019.
In an email to the Sheaf, Russell Isinger, university registrar, says the spring convocation was a success. Aside from the new location, the spring dates also saw changes in programming meant to shorten the ceremonies.
“I’ve now been part of 129 University of Saskatchewan convocation ceremonies, and the ones this spring were the best I have ever attended,” Isinger said. “They were well-received, they ran a reasonable length of time and the ceremonies were more focused on the students.”
Isinger says the change in location had the desired effect on the celebrations.
“After 50 years off campus, having convocation on the university grounds, in our own facility where graduates, with their families and friends, can easily return to the campus to take photos and celebrate, is what we looked forward to with this move,” Isinger said.
The university is still calculating the costs of the spring convocation. Isinger says he expects the move to be financially advantageous in the long run.
“There were one-time costs associated with moving to a new facility, but in the long term we anticipate costs to be more than comparable to TCU Place,” Isinger said.
Though mainly a sports facility, Merlis Belsher was designed with community events in mind, with input from the university group in charge of convocation. The facility seats more people than TCU Place which the university was starting to outgrow; graduates now get seven invitation tickets each instead of four.
Isinger says the university is glad to bring convocation back to U of S grounds. He thanks the founding donor Merlis Belsher for his $12.25-million gift to the university.
“We are so grateful for Merlis Belsher for his transformative gift. It was his intention that the building would be more than a sports facility, and rather a multi-purpose event centre for the community,” Isinger said. “Merlis Belsher Place is the perfect home for convocation, one of the university’s largest and most important public events.”
Ana Cristina Camacho / News Editor