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After more than a decade, Sandra Hurd fulfills service as University marshal at 2012 Commencement

July 02, 2012

Sara Miller
(315) 443-9038

After more than a decade, Sandra Hurd has retired her Commencement leader title of University marshal.

Beginning her service in 2001 at the Commencement ceremony that featured NASA Col. Eileen M. Collins ‘78, and concluding this May at the 2012 ceremony with screenwriter Aaron Sorkin ’83, Hurd has served to keep thousands of graduating students organized and precise as they process in and out of the Carrier Dome on the momentous day in which they enter as SU students and leave as graduates.

HurdHurd, associate provost for academic programs in the Office of Academic Affairs and professor of law and public policy in the Whitman School of Management, also previously announced that effective this July, she will be stepping down from the associate provost position she has held since 2005, while remaining a professor at the Whitman School.

Succeeding Hurd as University marshal is Shiu-Kai Chin, Laura J. and L. Douglas Meredith Professor for Teaching Excellence and professor of electrical engineering and computer science in the L.C. Smith College of Engineering and Computer Science. Chin has served as associate University marshal since 2004. Additionally, Kelly Chandler-Olcott joins as associate University marshal. Chandler-Olcott is a professor and chair of Syracuse University’s Reading and Language Arts Center in the School of Education, where she directs the English Education program.

Hurd became University marshal in 2004 after serving as associate University marshal in the three years prior. She says University marshal is the faculty ceremonial head of official SU academic functions, primarily the Chancellor’s Convocation for New Students and Commencement, and is a position that works with the Office of Special Events to make the ceremonies reflect the University’s values and be wonderful celebrations for students and their families.

“I love the significance of opening and closing each academic year and the pageantry of those occasions,” says Hurd. “I’ve most enjoyed meeting the many extraordinary individuals over the years, including honorary degree recipients, students and graduates, and commencement speakers.”

For Commencement, the University marshal's responsibilities begin well in advance of the ceremony day and include recruiting faculty and staff to serve as additional marshals, coordinating student marshals from each school and college, and leading a rehearsal of the Commencement ceremony to choreograph the big day for students.

Responsibilities during the ceremony are very evident and most notably include floor management of the hundreds of graduates in attendance, and making sure that all the moving parts are coordinated with visible precision, often when curveballs are thrown in. “In 2009, I remember making constant adjustments for the Secret Service during Vice President Joseph Biden’s visit as Commencement speaker,” says Hurd.

Marshals are also very concerned about maintaining proper decorum at Commencement. “What students wear—and don’t wear—under those robes is always interesting, along with the innovative inflatables students manage to sneak into the Dome,” says Hurd.

“Sandy’s experience as University Marshal has been invaluable in keeping Commencement running smoothly and on time,” says Susan Germain, executive director of the Office of Special Events.

Upon serving her last Commencement ceremony as University marshal, Hurd says: “It was sad to think about its being the last time, but I felt wonderful knowing that Shiu-Kai would be taking over the role.”

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