Empty or Me?

While we’re celebrating current, recent, and upcoming graduation days, for my students and all graduates everywhere, I’m reminded of a funny story.

This goes back a bunch of years, shortly before I added the role of Chair of Undergraduate Business Programs to my responsibilities. (Currently, I’m Director of Graduate Programs along with the usual Professor of Marketing activities).

The business school was to have a representative on the stage for the big ceremony, as did all of our colleges.

Typically, this would be the Dean of the business school, but he had just ascended to the presidency of another university. So that wasn’t going to work.

His second in command, the Assistant Dean, was administrator and not an academic. So he was not the answer.

Next on the list was the current Chair of Undergraduate Business Programs but she was out of town.

The next possibility considered was to simply have an empty chair.

I don’t know if anyone considered NOT having an empty chair, just simply removing that extra chair. That way none would be empty.

Hey, I wasn’t in this meeting.

Then somebody who was at the meeting thought of me, the soon-to-be new Chair of Undergraduate Business Programs.

And thus began my long and storied career of sometimes sitting on the stage at some graduation ceremonies.

PLUSES! The ability to look out on the sea of graduating students and their families. It is a wonderful, humbling experience.

And the extra leg room.

MINUSES! Since the sound is aimed away from the stage, it’s sometimes hard for me to understand what’s being said. And even though I’m far from the center of attention, I’m still kind of in everybody’s view. Any nose-picking or bodily adjustments must be discreet.

And the knowledge that I was once the fifth choice, right after the empty chair.

But still ahead of taking the extra chair off the stage. So I’ve got that going for me.

What do you think?

See you next time (if I’m invited)!