The pressure is on to plan memorable and successful graduation ceremonies, especially at one of the nation's most prestigious universities.
In episode 4 of etouches Affinity Podcast, we talk to Kyle Krause, director, special events & programs for the Office of the Dean, Columbia College and Columbia Engineering at Columbia University in New York. Along with orientations and family weekends, Kyle and his team organize two of university's 18 graduation ceremonies every spring. Each ceremony graduates an estimated 1,400 students and has a guest count of roughly 7,ooo!
Read these excerpts from the latest episode of our weekly podcast and listen to the full version at the link below!
Graduation season is upon us, so what are your main goals or directives in terms of successfully executing all the events that are going on over a course of that week?
We have the two ceremonies; one occurs Monday mid-day and the other on Tuesday morning. Our main goal is to pull off two large scale graduation ceremonies in that amount of time with not a lot of resources. We are a small team here, but we do partner with a lot of groups on campus both within our school and with the university at large. One of the goals is to make sure all of our partner offices are on the same page in regards to the ceremony so that we can make it meaningful and valuable for the students who are graduating, as well as for their families and guests.
Another goal is to make sure we’re able to reach all the graduates and inform them of the ceremony and of the things to do in order for them to do to have a successful and memorable event. We used etouches this year to incorporate registration into our graduation ceremonies for the first time. We’re really encouraging all of our graduates to register beforehand to submit information that we’ll use during the ceremony, such as how they want their name printed in the program, how they want their name read aloud when the walk across their stage, etc. It’s a goal for us each year to implement a little bit more technology into the process so that we’re capturing all the information that we need from students in one system.
How do you ensure that every event you have over commencement is aligned with the mission, vision and brand of what is a very prestigious university with a lot of great traditions?
That’s a great question, especially in regards to an intuition like Columbia where each school has its own mission and brand. We are always thinking about ways we can align with that with our ceremonies. We do take direction from the deans of each school, ask about the ideas that they have so we can represent that and encourage our students to represent that as well. We also have to adhere to the traditions of the university as a whole. We do this by aligning our schools' graduation to the larger university-wide commencement ceremony so that they match up. We also like to include our faculty and alumni in our graduations because they are a key part of the student experience.
In regards to branding, each school has its own logos, messaging, etc. We stay in close touch with our marketing and communications group to make sure we’re adhering to that in both with printed materials and, on the day of, things that are projected on screens. Overall, the university does a great job of streamlining all of its graduation ceremonies each spring.
Download the full episode with Columbia University below!