Last Tuesday April 5, the faculty convocation was held in the Memorial Chapel. Timothy X. Troy, professor of theatre arts and J. Thomas and Julie Esch Hurvis Professor of Theatre and Drama, spoke about the role of collaboration in innovation. However, student attendance to the event was poor, reflecting an unfortunate trend that has developed over the past few years.
Convocation provides a unique opportunity for Lawrentians and community members alike to expose themselves to diverse perspectives from outside speakers. In past years Lawrence convocations have featured such noted speakers as Maya Angelou, Wynton Marsalis and David Sedaris.
Though the Committee on Public Occasions emails the entire staff, faculty and student body during Fall Term to ask for nominations for the following year’s convocation speakers, the response is usually low. We at The Lawrentian believe that increased publicity for this nomination process may encourage more staff, faculty and students to contribute nominations and also help boost attendance at this distinctly Lawrence tradition.
To nominate potential speakers, staff, faculty or students only need to write a short paragraph describing why a certain speaker would fit Lawrence’s convocation series well. While this process is straightforward, the Committee on Public Occasions should publicize the nomination process through posters and other advertisements to generate more interest. By increasing student involvement with the nomination process, students will feel more connected to convocation in general, increasing the turnout.
Additionally, we recommend that the Committee on Public Occasions increase their visibility on campus. The Committee on Public Occasions consists of faculty, staff and two students. Students can contact LUCC to apply for these positions, and LUCC appoints the chosen students to the board. We encourage students to apply for these positions, and for the Committee on Public Occasions to promote open spots as a way for students to become more involved in the convocation nomination process.
Convocation’s placement in the middle of most students’ lunch breaks may also contribute to the low attendance. If students have a 12:30 p.m. class, attending convocation may force them to eat lunch before 11 a.m. or after 2:20 p.m. If 12:30 p.m. classes instead started at 1 p.m. on convocation days, student attendance may increase because the time change would provide a break for lunch.
We encourage students to take advantage of the convocation series by getting involved with the nomination process. Additionally, we recommend that the Committee on Public Occasions increase their visibility on campus to bolster student involvement.