Provost's Convocation Task Force


The Office of the University Secretariat (the Secretariat) is charged with coordinating Convocation ceremonies for the university. They have identified the following challenges impacting the continued use of Alumni Hall as the venue for Convocation ceremonies:

  1. Accessibility challenges with the current facility.
  2. The university’s strategic plan, Towards Western at 150, includes plans for strategic enrollment growth over the next few years. While not all growth is expected to be in degree programs, it will result in additional graduates, putting further pressure on the number of ceremonies required to accommodate them.

As a result of these considerations, the Secretariat and the Office of the President identified the need to explore options for an alternate venue with the aim of addressing accessibility needs and increasing the number of students graduating at each ceremony, ultimately reducing the number of ceremonies and accommodating future enrollment growth.

As the Provost and Vice-President (Academic) is the lead in respect of strategic enrollment planning and in respect of the university’s operating budget, the President requested that the Provost initiate a task force to begin this exploration.

The Convocation Task Force will work collaboratively to make recommendations to the Provost on a venue that will optimize the number of ceremonies and dates required, address issues of accessibilty, and ensure a smooth and seamless experience for the increasing number of graduates and their families and friends.  

Consultation Sessions

March 26, 2024 - In-person session for groups identified with close connections to Convocation - by invitation

March 27, 2024 - Online session for recent graduates and Alumni and Board representatives - by invitation

April 1, 2024 - In-person session for faculty, staff and students at Western - session full

We welcome your feedback through our online survey:

Consultation Survey
The survey is open until 11:59pm on April 2, 2024.


Western University holds 27 Convocation ceremonies annually, for approximately 8000 graduates and their families (over two weeks in June and three days in October).

As Western prepares for higher volumes of graduates in the future, the task force has identified the following challenges to be considered in future planning:

  1. Accessibility

    There are multiple accessibility challenges at Alumni Hall. While not an exhaustive list, these include:

    a) Only one elevator: The elevator was not functioning during the October 2022 Convocation period and graduates with mobility challenges could not join their peers in the line-up space before the ceremony.

    b) Graduates/participants with mobility challenges cannot enter and exit the stage with their peers. The mechanical lift to get graduates/participants with mobility challenges onto the stage is noisy and positioned immediately outside the doors to the auditorium (making it obvious when in use) and requires graduates to leave the auditorium to access it.

    c) Heavy doors to the building with no automatic opening make it difficult to get in and out, especially for those with mobility challenges.

    d) Regalia pick-up and drop-off is in the UCC, a distance from Alumni Hall.

    e) Elevator controls are mounted too high for someone using a wheelchair or scooter.

    f) Washroom faucets, accessories and dispensers are not accessible to someone using a wheelchair or scooter.

    2. Venue space constraints

    Graduates are lined up in the basement to prepare for the procession. Space constraints mean a maximum of 450 graduates can be accommodated per ceremony. Any other location for this purpose would necessitate a much longer distance to travel to the hall and complicate the process of ensuring graduates are lined up in the correct order.

    Additionally, graduates no longer receive their degree at Alumni Hall, as the small space created too much congestion and a longer return to the hall after crossing the stage. To alleviate congestion, graduates now pick up their degrees at Mustang Lounge in the UCC building which has its own challenges for graduates with mobility issues, or if there is inclement weather.

    3. Parking

    Western welcomes between 1,200 and 2,200 graduates and guests at each Convocation ceremony, the majority of whom travel by car to the campus. The closest lots to Alumni Hall (Huron Flats and South Valley) can generally accommodate the vehicles for each ceremony, however, if attendees at a morning ceremony do not leave before afternoon attendees arrive, this creates greater parking pressures for the incoming group.
    There is further pressure on parking resources when other large-scale events (such as track and field events at the stadium) are happening at the same time as Convocation.

    In addition, construction projects on campus beginning Fall 2024 will have a substantial impact on available parking, including in the Alumni Thompson lot where accessible parking is typically provided and road improvement construction at the Western Rd/Sarnia Rd/Philip Aziz Dr intersection will impact ease of access to the other parking lots most used for Convocation guests.

    4. Timing and resource investment to support ceremonies

    In total, spring Convocation relies on 500+ internal volunteers made up primarily of staff and faculty, as well as additional individuals to support various elements of the ceremony including conferring degrees, hosting honorary degree recipients, ushering and logistics of moving hundreds of people in and out of the student line-up space and the hall.

    Each ceremony requires two hours of preparation (getting graduates robed, stage presenters seated, etc.) which restricts the ability to add a third ceremony. Expanding Convocation over more days or weeks would prove challenging given other campus activities in June, the further demand it would place on volunteers, staff and faculty, as well as the additional expense.



  • Amy Bryson, University Secretary (Chair)
  • Temi Akin-Aina, Associate Vice-President (Alumni Relations)
  • Waliu Alaka, graduate student 
  • Chris Alleyne, Associate Vice-President (Housing & Ancillary Services)
  • Pauline Barmby, Professor, Faculty of Science
  • Kelly Burke, Director of Operations (Provost’s designate)
  • Sherif Elmagrabhy, undergraduate student 
  • Joan Finegan, Director of Convocation
  • Kibret Mequanint, Marshal of Convocation
  • Valerie Sarkany, Deputy Registrar
  • Caroline Whippey, Associate University Secretary/Associate Director of Convocation