Massey's robe-hire service makes grade
The grand regalia of Massey University's graduates has moved home from the dark and danky to the light and bright.
A handful of university dignitaries celebrated the opening of the new academic dress hire premises at the Turitea campus in Palmerston North yesterday.
The centre first opened in 1958, when robes were supplied from a gown room in Wellington.
The system was then taken over by the Graduate Women Manawatu Charitable Trust, which stored the gowns in the house of a generous trust member who sorted stock in her spare bedroom.
In the 1960s they went to the Bishop's room at the Franciscan Friary, in Ihaka St, before being moved to a storeroom in Massey's library and then settling in an unused cloak bay in the chemistry building.
By the 1990s the gowns were parked in a dilapidated prefab, since demolished, on the Hokowhitu campus site, before being housed more permanently at the Kura Awa address.
Last year Massey offered to move the academic dress hire room as the Hokowhitu spot became hot property, and this week about 1900 gowns, 4000 hoods and 1300 hats were shifted from the old space to the new.
Trust chairwoman Jean Corbin Thomas said the academic gown hire had grown from a small service to a considerable business. Proceeds are channelled back into the upkeep of the gowns, with the profits used to provide scholarships to young women.
More than $100,000 has been given in the past three years and $2 million since the gown room first started - a far cry from the $364 in scholarships the branch gave away in its inaugural year.
Academic dress hire business manager Pauline O'Donoghue said the new facilities were at the heart of Massey and with new lighting, better heating and an established sorting system - thanks to founding gown room manager Mary Skipworth - it meant the robes could be kept in optimum condition.
Massey University vice-chancellor Steve Maharey said the work of the gown hire team and generosity of the trust spoke volumes. "This a gown room for people who are graduating, one of the most important occasions in their life . . . once they get the gown on . . . it all makes sense and they feel emotional about the occasion, and you all play a fundamental role in that," he said.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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