Anyone in possession of full academic regalia knows full well what spluttering rage can be inspired by the hood. It never stays attached to the appropriate button. When accidentally sat on, it avenges the slight by strangling the wearer. It slips jauntily off one shoulder. It turns inside out. It's completely useless as an actual hood. In sum, there is no more infuriating item of academic garb.1
However, as anyone who instructs graduate students can tell you, the hood becomes even more infernal when you have to put it over someone's head. (Especially when that head has a mortarboard on it.) The problem only worsens when the hooder in question is a faculty member who is, perhaps, somewhat less than tall. Or even somewhat less than medium height. Quite short, in fact.
I propose that there is a market for handling the problems associated with diminutive hooders.
1. Lightweight telescoping stepladders. These ladders, which expand at the touch of a button, are small enough to be concealed beneath an academic robe, yet sturdy enough to withstand several minutes of hooding.
2. Portable kneelers. Made out of mahogany and leather (embossed university insignia optional), the kneelers can be kept near the podium and wheeled out when necessary. Instead of awkwardly bending or crouching, students can maintain their dignity while lowering themselves to the appropriate height.
3. Robotic arms. Instead of using their own hands, hooders can manipulate a mechanical "claw"--like the ones you see in the stuffed animal machines at the arcades--to lower a hood over the graduate's head.
4. Platform lifts. Hooders can elevate themselves--or lower the students--by working a convenient lever.
5. Velcro hoods. Instead of going over the graduate's head, the hood can be draped around the shoulders, then attached at the front using a velcro closure.
6. Hooding heels. These gender-neutral shoes, which go well with any doctoral robe, add approximately six inches to any hooder's height.
7. Hood parachutes. At the press of a button, a parachute-equipped hood drops from the ceiling and gracefully floats over the student's head.
8. Pneumatic hoods. The hooder stuffs a hood into a high-pressure tube, aims the tube at the ceiling, and then blows out the hood (which, again, gracefully floats over the student's head).
1 The mortarboard runs a close second. Luckily, the University of Chicago uses berets instead.