When all the tassels have been turned and all the speakers have spoken at Kansas University's Commencement on Sunday, thousands of new graduates will race up Mount Oread to Strong Hall to pick up those long-awaited diplomas.
Students understand the years of hard work that go into earning a diploma, but few realize the months of preparation required to process one.
Linda Faust, records supervisor at the student records office, said the diplomas are printed by Jostens in Red Wing, Minn. She compiles a list of all potential graduates and sends the first order to the company in February.
According to Gary Thompson, director of student records, "We order diplomas for everyone we think might graduate, so in case they actually do, we have a diploma to hand them after commencement."
ALTHOUGH more than 4,200 diplomas were processed for Sunday's commencement, only 4,036 students are estimated to graduate according to May 1 figures.
"Since then, they've added a lot and taken a lot off the list," Faust said, noting that close to 800 extra diplomas will be destroyed.
About 400 of those will be re-ordered for students who receive highest distinctions or other honors that are engraved on the diplomas. They should be available in the first week of July, Faust said.
Some diplomas come back from the printer with misplaced accent marks, typographical errors or incorrect spaces in the names. "If it's an error that we've done, we'll send it back for no charge," Faust said.
Otherwise, the office charges $15 to process a new diploma in situations such as name changes. Sometimes, diplomas are replaced for unusual reasons, Faust said.
"ONE MAN put his diploma on top of his car," she said. "Then he and his friends got in the car and shut the doors and drove off. The diploma was never seen again. Another woman, who had just gotten her Ph.D., put her diploma on the table and her son put his grape popsicle on it."
Not every graduate makes the ceremonial dash to pick up a diploma. "We have several people who haven't picked them up from last spring and about 100 for people who graduated in January," Faust said.
Thompson said the costs of printing the diplomas are covered by a special commencement account.
"It's got to be one of the most inefficient things the printer does," he said with a laugh. "On a diploma, the press run is only one copy.
"Our diplomas at KU are engraved. They're the only ones in the state that are engraved instead of printed."
THOMPSON said the signatures on the diploma are engraved, although Lawrence Chalmers, chancellor during the early 1970's, chose to sign every diploma by hand.
"He'd go to meetings and bring a big stack of diplomas to sign while he sat in on the meeting," he said.
Graduates can pick up diplomas on the first floor of Strong Hall immediately following the commencement ceremonies or in the rotunda at Strong Hall from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday and Tuesday. Arrangements also can be made to have diplomas mailed to the graduate's address.