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Page 234 text:
Karlem Riess A decade of leading the commencement parade ' 1 ■ i
Page 235 text:
When Law School commencement ceremonies were over this year, University Marshal Karlem Riess had walked about 1,600 students down the aisle in the course of three days to receive graduate and undergraduate degrees. Most of them he knew. He called one " freshman " or another " tubby " , he had a tug on the ear or a poke in the stomach or a hand on the shoulder for others. But no one minded, in fact they would have felt left out, if they weren ' t subject to joking, pokes and nicknames. It ' s what they expected . . . and love. Although he ' s loathe to do it. Dr. John Karlem Riess celebrates a lot of anniversaries this year. It is his own fiftieth anniversary of graduation from the College of Arts and Sciences, his fortieth year as professor of physics and going on his thirty-fifth year as advisor to Tulane fraternities. To a man who hates anniversaries, or sentimentalities, or limelight or trying to guess the number of people he ' s walked down the aisles in McAlister, perhaps it ' s the worst year in a while. It ' s business as usual nonetheless. There ' s little usual about a man with Karlem Riess ' s attributes. He is not just Dr. Riess the physics professor. He is Dr. Riess, member of several honorary societies and the winner of countless awards for distinguished service. Leading people down the processionary aisles is how Riess has spent one long weekend in May every year for the last ten years. He attends each of nine commencements. He makes sure all the degree candidates and platform party members are in the right place. He does a once over on academic attire for top university administration, seeing that hoods hang just so and mortar boards are at the proper angle. And the university marshal worries. It ' s his job to keep commencement ceremonies from straying off schedule. He looks at his watch and worries whether university president Eamon Kelly will make it from the last commencement on time. He worries that some speaker may talk too long. And he worries that the hundreds of faculty and degree candidates may take too much time getting lined up properly. But the job as university marshal doesn ' t mean putting on regalia and marching around. There are also the tremendous, sometimes tedious amounts of logistics involved in planning, coordinating and contracting. University marshal since 1972, Riess came as no stranger to those requirements. He has served on the Committee on Academic Ceremonies since he returned to Tulane in 1943. He has supervised the conferring of hundreds of degrees, special ceremonies like inaugurations (Riess has three under his belt now — Herbert Longenecker in 1960, F. Sheldon Hackney in 1975 and Eamon Kelly in 1981). Already Riess ' s years of service have surpassed the combined tenures of his predecessors, but he thinks that it ' s chance that he stayed so long. " When you take a job you don ' t know how long you ' ll stay. I didn ' t think back then I ' d stay so long. " Riess is not a sentimentalist. He dislikes having to assume the role as the retrospective university historian. When he acquiesces to the inevitable " overview " question that one is always subjected to on an golden anniversary of any kind, Riess has this to say, " Well, of course the university has grown in size and the scholastic standards have been raised. But you know something — there really isn ' t much difference in the student body of today and that of thirty years ago. If there is a problem that I could see it would be that faculty and students don ' t have the same kind of close contact that they did thirty years ago. 231
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