Queen’s University is holding its first in-person convocation ceremonies since 2019, with thousands of graduates, their families and friends gathering at the Leon’s Centre in downtown Kingston this week.
The convocation ceremonies are celebrating the graduating classes of 2020, 2021, and 2022. In total, 10 graduation ceremonies will take place this week from Monday, Jun. 20 to Friday, Jun. 24, with 700 to 900 graduates attending each ceremony.
“Before the ceremony, there was a great deal of excitement chatting with [the graduates] outside,” shared Ann Tierney, Vice-Provost and Dean of Student Affairs at Queen’s University. “I’ve just had the opportunity to catch up with a few families and students, and everyone is really excited, really proud. And it’s really wonderful. You know, everyone has their own story that brought them to this convocation, and it’s wonderful for them to be able to celebrate that.”
Tierney also spoke of the changes to the in-person ceremony, which included no handshaking, having masks available, and a slightly different flow across the stage as approximately 8,000 graduates are finally able to celebrate their achievements.
“Kudos to our staff who’ve done, I think, a wonderful job of really organizing something that’s very celebratory, and doesn’t go on to too long for the families and the graduates, as well,” Tierney stated.
Krista LeClair, Executive Director of Kingston Accommodation Partners, shared a few details of how three years of graduating classes will affect life in downtown Kingston this week.
“Well, it’s extraordinary that we get three graduating classes to come to Kingston all in the same week — we’re looking at 25,000 guests this week,” she stated. “You know, from a tourism perspective, the hotels are full. The restaurants are full, everyone’s out having a great time, and we’ve got great weather to sell. It’s a fantastic week and looking really good, as well.”
LeClair went on to share a bit about how the current labour shortage has affected the hotel industry, and how the Accommodation Partners have worked together to overcome some obstacles.
“There’s been a lot of effort to plan ahead and collaborate with as many groups as possible to make sure that we’re seeing rooms turned over and people welcomed. It’s great to see that all of the hotels are full during this time. And, [we had] meetings leading up to convocation, including the City [of Kingston] and including many different partners to try to figure out how best to get people downtown, how to move them around downtown, how to welcome them.”
“It’s really great opportunity to celebrate the successes at Queen’s, while also enjoying the community that they have called home for the last few years,” she continued. “It’s so lively in downtown Kingston right now, too, and it’s a great sign for what’s to come for the summer.”
According to the university, City Hall will be lit up in Queen’s official colours on the evenings of June 20, 22, 23 and 24 to honour the graduates. “All are welcome to tune into the Springer Market Square webcam to see the illumination of City Hall,” the Univeristy stated in a press release. “Kingston Transit is also offering transportation on behalf of the university, with city bus rides between Queen’s campus and the Leon’s Centre.”