There was free food, and lots of it. This is always a desirable trait in an orientation.
There should, however, be bingo cards. Seriously. It would be a lot easier to stay awake if you got to check off a space every time somebody said, "New SLAC is just like a family!" or "... College, I mean University." (New SLAC has technically just become New SLAU, although I'm going to go on calling it New SLAC because I'm a contrarian. Besides, the Beloved Alma Mater is three times as big and still calls itself a college, although the Beloved Alma Mater has never been one to allow minor incidents such as the American Revolution to force a name change, so it might not be the best example.)
We got to Process in Regalia for opening convocation. This is still a novelty to me, so I enjoyed it, although Lord knows those costumes were designed for medieval Europe and not the southern end of the Midwest in the middle of August. Still, there is something irresistably charming about being paid to dress up like you're at a Renaissance Faire from time to time. Of course, one could always just get a job at a Renaissance Faire and skip the Ph.D. Damn, why didn't I think of that nine years ago?
Just before convocation, in the little anteroom where people put on their robes and leave shoulder bags and such baggage, an older gentleman whom I don't know approaches me.
"Are you going to carry the mace?"
"What? Er, no. Not that I know of."
"Oh. Are you going to make a speech, then?"
"Dear Lord, I certainly hope not!" (A speech? No one told me anything about a speech. Are they in the habit of tapping junior faculty for surprise convocation speeches? Um, help?)
All Becomes Clear when the convocation itself is in session, with an undergrad carrying the mace, and another one making a speech. I guess I should have put the robes on sooner, because they do at least make it clear that I must be over twenty-seven and probably closer to thirty; apparently I can't rely on my face alone to give this impression.
Convocation began and ended with a prayer. Having attended public schools from kindergarten straight through grad school, and having no particular religious faith of my own, I wasn't sure how I felt about this; but this seems to be the right sort of Christian-affiliated school, the kind that respects its employees' freedom to believe and teach as they choose and channels its religious mission into doing some good in the world. I'm probably going to join one of the groups doing volunteer-ish stuff in the community on Saturday, and I think, on the whole, that I will like it here.