Dolores Ford has laid a hand on every single diploma issued to every Tulane University graduate during the last 30 years. So fond of her pre-commencement duties, Ford, a retiree who works part time in the Office of the Registrar, takes on full-time hours to tend to her "children" — referring to the thousands of diplomas that she organizes and proofreads each spring.
Dolores Ford is working hard on diplomas for the 2013 commencement ceremony on Saturday (May 18) in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. (Photo by Paula Burch-Celentano)
“Last year, I proofed 6,000 diplomas,” says Ford. “And when I proof them, I check every single letter so it’s kind of tedious.”
Ford proofreads each diploma twice. She then meticulously rolls each Masters and PhD certificate, inserts it in a tube and labels it. Her other responsibilities include making sure the honors are correct, obtaining the president’s signature on the diplomas, organizing each diploma by school and alphabetizing them all.
For some, the work would be boring, but Ford says she loves everything about the monotonous process.
Rebecca Ancira, associate vice president for enrollment management in undergraduate admission, says the breadth of Ford's impact on the process could easily be understated, but the service she provides is a tremendous asset to commencement
preparation each year.
“Having Dolores here is reassuring because you know the diplomas will be right,” says Ancira. “She’s like a really good insurance policy, and I can’t imagine commencement without her.”
According to Ford, the process has really changed over the years. The biggest change this year has been that Tulane is now printing its own diplomas instead of ordering them.
Also, some students no longer receive diplomas on stage. They are given an empty folder as they walk across and receive the actual diploma backstage immediately following the ceremony.
Greg Thomson is a Tulane sophomore studying communication.