Convocation and You

It’s hard to believe that just 9 months ago we were writing the “Welcome to MAPH” blog post for you guys. And now, here we are, 9 insane months later, writing the “MAPH Convocation” post. I know you’re all busy and still have lots to finish before convocation actually happens, but just take the time right now to congratulate yourself on ALL that you have accomplished over the past 9 months. You have likely written over 200 pages of academic writing, read over 1,000 pages of fiction, theory, criticism, and/or philosophy, met a bunch of new and interesting people that will hopefully be a major support system for you as you move on to your next adventure, and expanded your mind in ways that only graduate school at the University of Chicago allows you to do.

The really exciting thing is that in three short weeks (yes, three weeks from Saturday), all of the insane stress of this program will be behind you and you can focus on the amazing journey and the benefits that you’ve gained from it. Plus your family will be in town so you’ll probably get a least one swanky, free dinner. So, let’s cut the sap and get down to business. Here’s what you need to know about convocation weekend:

Friday night from 4:00PM to 6:00PM is the Parent Reception (location: Classics 110), and it is just that: a reception for you and your parents (also friends, grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles, etc.). Please don’t let them be nervous about dressing up or anything. MAPHCentral will be slightly dressed up so we look nice to meet your families, but we’d rather you and your guests be comfortable. It’s not a sit-down dinner–more like a social hour but with better food and drink. Why do we do this? Well, because we blow most of our end-of-the-year budget on prom AND it gives you the chance to go to not one, but TWO fabulous Chicago restaurants while your parents are in town (Friday and Saturday night).

Note about the restaurants: make reservations NOW. If you’re looking for good, family-friendly (i.e., not Jimmy’s) places to bring your parents and show off the city, here are some suggestions: Shaw’s, Piccolo Sogno, The FarmhousePhil Stefani’s, or La Madia. If you just want a yummy dessert after snacking at the reception, maybe try: Hot Chocolate, La Creperie, or The Purple Pig (surprisingly Italian). Trust me, MAPHCentral can recommend Chicago restaurants for hours, so come by if you still need a place and don’t like any of these options.

(Saturday’s Events…after the jump)

Then, on Saturday morning, the big graduate convocation ceremony starts at 9:15AM on the Main Quad (that big circle as you walk onto campus from the Seminary Coop). It’s not mandatory but has lots of pomp and circumstance. If you want to hear the major University keynote speaker and sit in a row and have blessings poured upon you, you might want to go. But, if you don’t want to get up early, there;s really no need to go to this since you don’t actually walk and you’ll get your diploma at the afternoon ceremony.

That afternoon, lunch is MAPH only at 12:00PM in Bartlett Hall. It’s a chance for your parents and family to meet your friends (if they didn’t already the night before) and David Wray will say a few words. Unfortunately, we don’t have much say over what they serve, so it’s just variations of boxed lunches but the sandwiches are fairly tasty and it’s a nice free afternoon meal. From there we (your mentors) will guide you to line up in Hutchinson Commons for the actual convocation ceremony.

The diploma ceremony is in Mandel Hall (the theater in Hutch Commons) at 1:45PM. It runs about an hour and includes all graduate students in the humanities (so mostly MAPH, then some Ph.D.’s and MFA students).  This is where you’ll receive your actual diploma and your parents can sneak up front and take a picture of you on stage. Unfortunately MA candidates aren’t hooded at UChicago, just Ph.D. students. But don’t feel let down…you still get to walk and shake people’s hands, then ogle at your diploma while you sit and wait for the ceremony to end.

After the official ceremony, there’ll be a champagne toast and gifts from the Alumni Association presented at 2:45PM in Bartlett Quad. Then you’ll be free to wander off and take pictures next to flower pots and such while your parents gush about how proud they are (you’re actually lucky if your parents DON’T do this). Generally the day’s events are over around 3:30PM or so, so you can probably safely make dinner reservations for 5:00PM or later in the city. Just a note, though: cabs are impossible to get after graduation since everyone needs one to get out of Hyde Park with their families. If you have a car or your family is renting one, you’re golden (although you may just want to stay parked at your apartment and walk back and forth if you live in Hyde Park). Otherwise, consider making a cab reservation for a particular time and place to get you to your dinner reservation on time. Yellow Cab takes reservations online, so it’s pretty painless, and they’ll text you when the cab is dispatched.

You can check out the Spring Convocation website for more details if we haven’t answered anything here: But, also feel free to stop by and ask us any other questions about the weekend’s events. We’re very excited for all of you! Enjoy your last few weeks of MAPH!

One thought on “Convocation and You

  1. Pingback: Eeek…my parents are coming! | MAPHtastic

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