By Cebokazi Duze
There are a lot of key role players involved in making Rhodes University's graduation an auspicious occasion that is filled with excitement and celebration. A critical, but often invisible role is that of the Academic Administration section within the Registrar's Division.
Outside of graduation, Academic Administration manages all examinations, student records and is responsible for all the administration relevant to Masters and Doctoral students. They also process venue bookings.
During the graduation period, this section's seven permanent staff members Ntosh Radu, Chad Gill, Marissa van As, Rita Ferreira, Juanita Fourie, Lee-Anne Venter, and Suzette Flanagan, take pride in contributing to the event's overall success.
For Academic Administration, March/April graduation work starts as early as November of the previous year. The team compiles the graduation information booklets, which are released to all graduating students and published on Rhodes University's Graduation Gateway. They also start liaising with graduation attire outlet Birch's, who requires the names and qualifications of graduating students to prepare enough gowns.
In the days leading up to graduation, staff members work overtime to prepare and print documentation and parchments in line with the ceremonies. The section employs three to four student helpers the week before, during, and after graduation.
"Working as a team and understanding the event's significance keeps us motivated during this pressurised time," said Flanagan, the Manager at Academic Administration.
The section also produces the seating arrangements for the graduating students and prepares the cards that the Deans use to call out names and qualifications of the graduates. When a graduate cannot attend the ceremony, Academic Administration packages each uncollected parchment securely for safe keeping in their strong room until the graduate contacts them for collection or courier.
"What makes it all worth it is knowing that we have played a role in the journey of a student reaching this milestone and witnessing the joy of both the graduate and their loved ones," Flanagan concluded.