Commencement changes

Splitting the celebration into two ceremonies fixed previous concerns


Jacob Summerville/The Lion's Roar

Katlyn Daigle and Richard Davis Jr. graduated from the College of Education during the first Fall 2019 commencement ceremony.

The university held two commencement ceremonies instead of one this past December for the seniors who graduated in the Fall 2019 semester in the 7,761 seat University Center on North Campus.

A morning ceremony was held for the College of Science and Technology, College of Business and College of Education and an evening ceremony for the College of Nursing and Health Sciences and the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences.

Lori Fairburn, director of enrollment services, explained that many people involved in the organization of the ceremonies paid attention to detail to make sure everything went as planned.

“In the weeks leading up to the events and during the ceremonies, dozens of students, faculty and staff committed their time to make sure every detail of commencement was reviewed,” said Fairburn. “Students, including members of the orchestra and SGA President Karley Bordelon, made the commitment to attend both ceremonies to make sure everything went smoothly.”

Compared to previous commencements, it was noted that the guests seemed to enjoy the smaller crowds of the split ceremony.

“Students and their guests were noticeably more relaxed and comfortable than some of the prior commencements,” mentioned Fairburn. “We know of at least one marriage proposal after one of the ceremonies, so we are hoping that was a good sign that students were enjoying their day.”

Karley Bordelon shared that everything seemed to go according to plan for both ceremonies.

“I think everything went as planned,” shared Bordelon. “The Commencement Team works really hard to make sure everything is smooth and fun for everyone. It is a time to celebrate, and they want to make sure everything is perfect for our grads’ special day.”

Bordelon explained that the changes made to the ceremonies this semester made the experience more enjoyable for graduates and their guests.

“I feel like it was super helpful for students and their families,” said Bordelon. “There were plenty of seats for all the relatives, and the ceremony itself was much shorter.”

Charles Augustus graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in marketing during the morning ceremony.

He explained that although he originally had some concerns, he ended up enjoying the ceremony.

“Initially, I wasn’t a fan of it, but once it started, graduation was pretty quick, pretty smooth and it wasn’t congested,” said Augustus. “My family really enjoyed it, so all in all it worked out well.”

Augustus mentioned that the split ceremony prevented some students from being able to celebrate their achievements together.

“It’s still sad when some people that I’m graduating with, we don’t actually graduate together,” commented Augustus. “Overall it was convenient, I’ll say that. Parking and traffic wasn’t nearly as bad.”

One of the reasons for having the split ceremony was to prevent traffic and parking issues that have occurred at past commencements.

Alexander Sutton, a security guard who worked the evening ceremony, explained how the split was beneficial.

“I think it was more safe, honestly,” said Sutton. “More people could get out and in. I remember last graduation, it was packed and no one had a seat. I feel like it was better this year with the split ceremony.”

David Bell graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in history during the evening ceremony.

Bell explained that the split ceremonies helped with parking availability and guest accommodation.

“I definitely think it was better, because I’ve been to a ceremony here when it was just the one, and it was just crazy,” said Bell. “Before I knew it was two ceremonies, I had even kind of uninvited some people because the number of people I was bringing was getting too high. But, at this one, my car broke down, I rolled up late and I still managed to find a parking spot. It’s not crazy crowded, like I feel I’ll still be able to find people.”

Fairburn explained that future commencement ceremonies may have additional changes if attendees have any concerns about this past graduation.

“Any changes to commencement will be made based on feedback from the Winter 2019 ceremonies,” stated Fairburn. “We encourage anyone with feedback to email [email protected].”