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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Graduation Special: Hand Sanitizer and the Dean’s Advantage

Two weeks before this year’s graduation ceremonies at my university, parking-meter-shaped Purell dispensers like the one above began popping up on campus. They are artifacts from last year’s H1N1 preventive campaign that have earned a future in my university’s public heath initiatives. Graduating students at commencement ceremonies would do well to take them and hand sanitization more seriously.

When they cross the stage to receive their diplomas, graduates shake the hand of one dean (or chancellor, or provost). But the hand that they’re shaking is an uber-hand—a node in a network, if you will—that has just pressed the flesh with scores, perhaps hundreds, of less than deanly extremities.

That’s something that deans know intimately, so when they finally sit down, most of them worth their advanced degrees reach for the sanitizer.That clear realization among deans is what I call The Dean’s Advantage. But most graduates who have just pressed the flesh with one dean think in terms of one hand—not the many hands that have just been up close and personal with the One.

That’s why they should get sanitized right away. Incidentally, don’t expect the dean to sanitize periodically during the handshaking queue. The scale and time constraints of the ceremony will always favor a linear assembly line, not lean production where the dean might halt the flow.

But there may still be a way out of this: consider the “GE Handshake” in the video below.

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