Looking 'under the hood'

    Spring convocation marked the debut of the new School of Public Health academic hoods.

    By Rachel Harper on June 9, 2015

    Convocation is a special time for the university community. For most, convocation symbolizes the conclusion of one chapter and indicates the beginning of a new one. It’s a time for students to reflect upon their past years of schooling and to celebrate their success with faculty, fellow graduates, family and friends.

    Not only was this year’s convocation an important day for graduates from the School of Public Health, it was also a monumental day in the School’s history.

    Spring convocation 2015 marked the debut of the new School of Public Health academic hoods. Although the School has been a separate faculty since 2006, MSc and MPH graduates continued to don the hood worn by graduates of the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry (FOMD) during convocation ceremonies.

    Kue Young, dean, and Faith Davis, vice-dean, recognized the importance of the School having its own distinctive hood colours and sought to develop this new custom.

    “Ours is the only school of public health in Canada that is accredited by the US-based Council on Education for Public Health,” says Young. “Having a distinctive academic hood for our graduates is in keeping with our sister accredited schools in North America. It also provides the opportunity to pay homage to our roots in the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry.”

    The new hood incorporates two colours. The first colour is a broad band in salmon pink, the traditional colour used by most schools of public health in the United States. The second colour is crimson, acknowledging the School’s academic origins in the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry.

    “As we continue to evolve, it is important to establish these new traditions,” says Young. “Graduating from the School is an achievement of which our graduates should be proud.”

    Each year the School receives approximately 600 applications for admittance, with about 12 per cent of those applicants being accepted. For Spring convocation, the School will see 51 students graduate; 38 MPH, 12 MSc and 1 PhD.

    “To graduate from one of our programs not only exemplifies personal excellence, but shows capacity in your field of specialization,” says Young. “We hope that the addition of the academic hood will add to that sense of pride and distinction.”

    Tharsini Sivananthajothy, president of the School of Public Health Students’ Association, echoes Young’s sentiments.

    ”Recently, we’ve seen public health emerging as a discipline of its own, and the new hood is a great way to make this distinction,” states Sivananthajothy. ”It allows our students to be easily identified by attendees of convocation as graduates of the School while also recognizing the importance of the discipline. The hoods provide a sense of belonging and pride in being a public health graduate.”

    The new hoods will be worn along with customary academic dress, adding to the University of Alberta’s rich history of traditions at convocation.