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Behind the scenes with Kate Astbury

Hear from colleagues who are taking time to contribute to graduation week, find out about their role and what they enjoy about it. It's a chance to see some of the activity that goes on behind the scenes to help make graduation week a success.


Behind the scenes with...

Dr Kate Astbury
Reader in French Studies, School of Modern Languages and Cultures
Role at graduation: Member of academic procession

My usual job involves…
a combination of teaching, admin and research, with some public engagement thrown in there too. I’m Director of undergraduate admissions, recruitment and outreach for the School of Modern Languages and Cultures and I currently hold 2 grants from the Arts and Humanities Research Council; one to investigate French Theatre of the Napoleonic Era and the other to stage plays from the period in conjunction with the Georgian Theatre Royal, Richmond and Portchester Castle.

In advance of graduation week…
Most of the work I put in for this January graduation week happened in August and September, since it involved helping taught postgraduates to complete their dissertations and my PhD student to pass her viva.

During graduation week I…
will be processing with other academic members of staff, providing the colourful backdrop on stage. I’ll also be attending a drinks reception for students graduating from the School of Modern Languages and Cultures which is always a really nice opportunity to catch up with graduands and to meet their families.

I really enjoy being involved with graduation because it’s a great way to celebrate our students’ achievements.

Graduation week is unique because…
it’s a chance for family members to see something tangible come out of all the reading and writing that the graduands have had to do to get here.

If I could change one thing about graduation it would be…
I’d lower the temperature on stage – under the lights, in full academic robes, it can get quite hot.

Not everyone knows that…
we process according to academic seniority.

What would you say to colleagues considering getting involved?
Does anyone need an excuse to dress up in their academic gown? I love my floppy hat! More seriously, though, I think it’s important that academics are part of the celebration of the graduands’ achievements.

What invaluable tip or advice would you give?
Academic hoods work best on broad shoulders so if, like me, you’re not really built to carry one, bring plenty of safety pins with you!

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