Rites of Passage

A reflection I passed on the way to the retirement event.

Rituals help an organization determine and reinforce its collective values.  The stories that are told convey what’s most important. They help pass core ideas from one generation to the next.

The things that are said and the places where these rituals are held are embedded with symbols that suggest what is central and important to the community.

The DIT has few rituals as an institution– the Institute is a collection of long-standing colleges that came together not so very long ago (1992, to be exact). It hasn’t had much time for such rituals to develop institute-wide.

The schools and departments within the DIT, however, maintain a number of very important rituals that help reinforce what these units stand for and communicate what the people in them cherish.

Speeches in Kevin Street’s penthouse “canteen.”

I got to attend one such ritual Friday evening. It was the retirement celebration for three Lecturers from the Electrical Engineering program. For each retiree, a colleague reminisced, sharing thoughts and telling stories. Each retiree spoke as well.

As an outsider, this was a very interesting event to behold. I learned much more about the community here.

After the formal reception and the speeches, most of us headed to a nearby pub.  The photos show faculty deep in discussion and others hamming it up.

It’s important for an organization to take time to reflect in this way–to celebrate what it considers to be accomplishments and to recognize contributions of its members.

Dave’s retirement speech thanked the family who donated a heart to him. His transplant was so successful that he could ham it up with “Father” Ted after the formal events.

Kevin Street colleagues deep in discussion.


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