Memorial service set for Assistant Registrar Gretchen Voight

SMU will hold a memorial service honoring Assistant Registrar for Academic Ceremonies Gretchen Voight at 4 p.m. Thursday, March 29th, 2012 in Perkins Chapel.

Voight, a resident of Irving, Texas, died Friday, March 23, after a brief illness. A native of Port Neches, Texas, Gretchen was the elder child of Donna and Ranny Voight.

Gretchen joined SMU in 2006 as the assistant registrar for academic ceremonies. She managed all aspects of the University’s five academic ceremonies, including Opening Convocation, December Graduation, Honors Day Convocation, the Baccalaureate Service and the Commencement Convocation, as well as other special University events. She was also active in the Staff Association, serving as its president in 2010-11 and founding its book club in 2011.

Gretchen is survived by her parents, along with her younger sister and brother-in-law, Robyn and Travis Lovett, as well as countless friends who were blessed to know her.

Written by Cherri Gann

Four staff members receive 2008-09 Presidential Awards

presidential-staff-awards-2009-300.jpgFour exceptional SMU staff members received 2008-09 Presidential Staff Recognition Awards at a May 21 ceremony in the Dallas Hall Rotunda. The honors recognize individuals who have shown outstanding performance, commitment, and ability.

This year’s recipients:

Gretchen Voight, assistant registrar for academic ceremonies, received the Presidential Award for New Employee Excellence, given to an individual who has been with SMU for one to three consecutive years.

Brook Benton Jimenez, assistant director of fitness in the Department of Recreational Sports, Dedman Center for Lifetime Sports, received the Presidential Award for Continuing Excellence, given to an individual who has been with the University for four or more consecutive years.

Joe Gargiulo, chief information officer for Information Technology, received the Presidential Award for Outstanding Leadership, given to a staff member who supervises one or more benefit-eligible employees and who “demonstrates exceptional leadership ability within his or her unit or across the University.”

Amber Kosik, director of SMU’s Hilltop Scholars Community in Perkins and Smith Halls, Residence Life and Student Housing, received the Presidential Award for Innovation, given to a staff member whose “creative, innovative ideas … significantly improve a work process or system or greatly increase the efficiency of an operation or unit.”

Read more about the winners at the Staff Association homepage.

Right, 2008-09 Presidential Award for Staff Excellence winners (left to right): Amber Kosik, Brook Benton Jimenez, Joe Gargiulo and Gretchen Voight.

SMU debuts new regalia during Commencement 2009

SMU's new custom regalia for 2009

This May, for the first time in SMU’s near-century of existence, the University’s graduating class will wear red and blue during Commencement ceremonies. The new custom regalia will make its debut during the 94th all-University ceremony at 9:30 a.m. May 16.

The new robes are the result of a 3-year team effort led by the Office of the Registrar. That group included Political Science Professor Brad Carter, SMU’s chief marshal from May 1990 to December 2008. Professor of Economics Tom Fomby succeeds Carter as chief marshal beginning with the May 2009 ceremony.

With the red and blue robes, the University has become part of a national trend toward custom regalia, “but to my mind, it’s more than that,” Carter says. “SMU has always had some of the best ceremonies and Commencement weekends of any school. And this seemed to be a sort of culminating act. It would highlight the particular brand of SMU, it would be beautiful, and it would be very localized and non-generic, yet elegant.”

The ad hoc selection team included Carter, Assistant Registrar for Academic Ceremonies Gretchen Voight, Director of Transfer and Articulation Services Nancy Skochdopole, University Registrar John Hall, Associate Provost Tom Tunks, Provost Paul Ludden, Vice President for Development and External Affairs Brad Cheves and President R. Gerald Turner.

“We had prepared our speech about why custom regalia was a good idea,” Hall says, recalling the first meeting with President Turner. “Then Gerald came into the room, went to one of the samples, and said, ‘Well, I don’t know if that’s the right color red.’ He had accepted the premise already, and now we just had to work out the details. I spent three nights writing that speech and never gave it.”

Choosing the perfect shade of blue was a bigger challenge, Voight says. “The first fabric sample we got was electric blue,” the color of a water-bottle cap, she says. Manufacturer Herff Jones helped to refine colors, fabrics, piping and other details, in close consultation with the regalia committee.

SMU custom doctor's gown, front viewThe team also worked with Herff Jones to develop unique regalia for each degree level. The bachelor’s robe includes a red “Stole of Gratitude,” to be kept by the new graduate after the robe is returned, and traditionally presented to an individual who had a profound influence on his or her education. The master’s robe features tabbed sleeves and a single SMU logo on the left lapel.

New doctoral regalia includes gold piping around velvet chevrons and SMU logos embroidered in gold. It has been approved by Deans John Attanasio and William Lawrence for use by Dedman School of Law and Perkins School of Theology graduates, as well as Ph.D. and other doctoral recipients. SMU trustees will wear the doctoral robes without hoods for the 2009 ceremonies; their new regalia is still in the design stage.

The University has a 7-year agreement with Herff Jones to provide the custom regalia. Seven years is the average life span of a rental robe, but SMU’s attire may remain in good condition for much longer, Hall says. “The typical black rental robe may be used as many as 12 times a year, but ours will only be used twice a year,” he adds.

The results will do SMU graduates proud for years to come. “I’m a Commencement traditionalist, and I couldn’t imagine not having black robes – but these are just beautiful,” Skochdopole says.

Top: SMU’s new custom regalia for doctoral, master’s and bachelor’s degree recipients (left to right). Lower left: A front view of the new doctoral robe and tam. Photos courtesy of Herff Jones.

How to rent, buy and wear regalia, courtesy of the Registrar’s Office