Sebastián Abdón Ibarra
Despite the return of many on-campus activities and events this fall, no winter commencement will be held for those graduating in January 2022, University officials announced recently.
Instead the University will hold spring ceremonies May 27 through May 29 to honor both winter and spring 2022 graduates.
The decision – made by University President Devorah Lieberman’s executive cabinet and announced by email Oct. 7 – had partly to do with the fact that the winter events happen indoors and thus limit guests, said Juan Regalado, chief student affairs officer.
“Having a ceremony in winter you had to limit graduates to two-to-four tickets because of capacity,” Regalado said.
COVID-19 and health concerns about large indoor gatherings also contributed to the decision to cancel winter 2022 commencement.
Trying to do an outdoor event in winter would be difficult, Regalado added.
For the spring events, graduates will be allowed to invite seven to 10 guests each, Regalado said.
He said the University also plans on taking some of the effective elements from last year, like the drive by event, and bringing them back.
“The reason (winter commencement) was created in the first place was because we had a problem with approving students for commencement,” said Al Clark, professor of humanities.
“Prior to winter commencement students would frequently commence and then never finish their degrees,” Clark said.
Winter commencement became a solution for students who were lacking one or two courses in May. They could take those courses in the summer or fall and then commence in January, Clark said.
Regalado said student priorities were considered in the commencement change decision, and the Faculty Senate also weighed in, and most were supportive of the change.
“Here’s what we heard from students is most important: Having the most amount of tickets possible, having the ceremony be on campus, having the space to have the family and faculty connect, being able to celebrate with people they did programs with,” Regalado said.
Still some students have mixed feelings.
Darcy McPherson and Sabrina Monfils, both senior kinesiology majors graduating in January, said they were surprised to hear of the change, which will mean a rejiggering of their family’s plans, including changing flight plans.
“When I first found out, I was kind of annoyed in a way because I’m going to be done in the winter and it’s an exciting time that I’m actually done, but then I have to wait a couple months just to walk in the spring,” McPherson said.
“The idea of graduating early is important,” Monfils said. “Having to come back four months later just for commencement was off-putting.”
McPherson added, however, that now that the decision has been made, she is looking forward to graduating with more of her friends.
Sebastián Abdón Ibarra can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.