The Office of the Registrar will not provide doctoral hoods free of charge to Ph.D. graduates for the first time.
Doctoral hoods cost $157 each but have traditionally been provided to doctoral graduates as a gift from the University. With more than 300 doctoral students graduating this year, GW will save at least $47,000 – but students said the extra cost can be a financial strain on graduates who do not have jobs.
University spokeswoman Maralee Csellar said in an email that the registrar’s office decided to change the policy after officials considered GW’s market basket institutions and found that none offered the hoods for free. She said students will have the option to rent their regalia or purchase it.
“The options are provided because some doctoral students continue their careers in academia as professors and will reuse the regalia as a faculty member at their new school,” Csellar said in an email.
Csellar declined to say if hoods would be provided free of charge for students who cannot afford to rent or purchase them.
In a Feb. 4 email obtained by The Hatchet, Rebecca Dunner, program manager for the Office of the Registrar, wrote that doctoral graduates wouldn’t need to purchase or rent a hood because the office would provide hoods upon check-in on the day of the ceremony.
Dunner sent a second email on Feb. 12 informing graduates of a change in policy.
“Please note that this year the Registrar will not be providing hoods to doctoral graduates,” Dunner said in the email. “You will need to rent or purchase your hood when you rent or purchase your regalia.”
Heather Jameson, a graduating doctoral student, said she emailed Dunner to ask why the policy had changed. Dunner responded that the registrar’s office made the decision based on a review of policies at peer institutions.
“It was determined that GW was an outlier in providing hoods free of charge to graduates,” Dunner said in the email.
Many of GW’s peer schools, including American, Boston and Georgetown universities, require students to purchase their doctoral hoods. Some, like Duke University, also list the option to rent doctoral commencement regalia for $65, which includes the tam, gown and hood. A similar rental package at GW is $145.
Jameson said the policy change takes away a token of administrative appreciation for doctoral students. Doctoral students are often responsible for producing the research that nets institutions accolades from major organizations and subsequently the grant money to fund university projects, she said.
“My specific doctoral project required me to work seven days a week and on holidays,” Jameson said. “I’m not complaining about that, I took that on and was happy to do so. But when we publish papers and write in scientific journals, it is the school who receives the recognition, whose name is tied to that research.”
Chris Gorini, a 2013 doctoral graduate and now a research fellow at the Food and Drug Administration, said the rationale behind the policy shift reflects poorly upon the University’s priorities.
“The rationale provided by the registrar basically says that since GW was the only school in the area providing hoods free of charge, we are going to charge people because that’s what other people are doing,” he said. “This is not the reason you go to GW. You go to GW because GW is a leading institution. It doesn’t follow, it sets paths.”