VERY NEARLY PERFECT
The Spanish professor says that when she emails students asking for guidance in pronouncing their name, they sometimes write back or call to say how much they appreciate the extra effort. At the ceremony fellow professors have been known to break into applause after she navigates what appears in the program to be an intimidating name. The graduates sometimes turn to her and mouth “thank you.”
She says that in all these years she has, to her knowledge, mispronounced only one name. It happened in 1999. She had undergone two emergency root canals the day before graduation and was feeling the effects of painkillers.
“I got through all the names and I got to the last one. It was a really simple name, and I kind of took a breath and thought, ‘Oh my God, I made it,’ and I flubbed it. It was something like ‘Alice.’ I forget what I actually said.”
Beebe is not the only lector among the faculty. The 1,300 students expected to march in Saturday’s undergraduate ceremony will have their names read by professors Michael Whalen ’89 (who’ll read arts graduates), Gregory Baker (business), Ruth Davis (engineering), and Kieran Sullivan (sciences).
Incredibly, for decades a single person read all the names at both ceremonies. Rev. Edward V. Warren, S.J., served at SCU for 50 years in a variety of capacities, including assistant dean in the School of Education and Counseling Psychology. He was a legend as a lector.
Beebe says she can still hear the thin man with the incongruously booming voice broadcasting “Rose Marie Beebe, Summa Cum Laude” across the Mission Gardens at her graduation in 1976. He was still serving as one of University’s lectors when she worked her first commencement in 1996.
The Spanish professor says Fr. Warren was a very kind man. Her eyes turn watery as she remembers a note of congratulations he sent her after her first ceremony reading, in 1996. The priest died in 2007 at age 89.
Beebe has a memorial card with his picture on it. She keeps it on the lectern at every commencement.
“I guess he watches over me,” she says. “I always say I want to be like Father Warren when I grow up. I want to do the names just like he did. Nobody will ever be as good as Father Warren.”
But she’s trying.
Read more: “Serra’s Sojourn,” an essay by Rose Marie Beebe from Santa Clara Magazine.