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Graduation ceremonies return to University campus

By : Katie Ellis

The opening of the Events Center not only changes the physical profile of the campus but also brings the pomp and circumstance of Commencement ceremonies back to campus for the first time in 20 years.

“The changes will be striking for those involved in the ceremonies each year,” said President Lois B. DeFleur. “Our Events Center provides a larger, state-of-the-art setting for the celebration of our students’ achievements, and we’ve added another ceremony for the Graduate School.”

The change in venue means that graduates will gather for each ceremony in the West Gym, allowing families and friends to move into the Events Center and find seats more easily.

Tamara Behonick, assistant to the provost and coordinator of Commencement, said that several other changes have been made to best accommodate the influx of visitors to campus. “We’ve pushed back the second Sunday ceremony an hour to afford us the best scenario for traffic,” she said. “And we’ve added a Graduate School ceremony on Saturday.”

Traditionally, Binghamton has held two ceremonies on Sunday — one for Harpur College of Arts and Sciences and another for the professional schools and the Graduate School.

This spring, the Graduate School will hold its own Commencement at 5 p.m. Saturday, May 15. Harpur College will hold its ceremony at 9 a.m. Sunday, May 16, and the professional schools will hold their ceremony at 1:30 p.m. Sunday.

Behonick said two sub-committees, one to focus on the Events Center as the new venue and the other to make recommendations for the Graduate School, were formed last year. Their recommendations were forwarded to the president and her senior staff for approval.

“This has been a very involved process,” Behonick said. “We’ve brought together people from all across campus to make the transition as smooth as possible and it’s going very well. Right now, the main thing we need is to communicate the changes to the campus and our graduates.”

Many of the recommendations the committee suggested centered on moving people in and out of the Events Center. University Police and Parking Services have put plans into place that will accommodate vehicles but cooperation will help the plan work smoothly.

“There are approximately 6,000 parking spaces available on campus, so parking will be adequate, but not everyone will be able to park right next to the Events Center,” Behonick said. “We’re providing shuttles and buses for guests who are not parked adjacent to the Events Center, but we also encourage early arrival. “After the morning ceremony for Harpur, we encourage departure well before the afternoon traffic starts to mount,” she said.

Another recommendation suggested is for families to take photographs on Friday and Saturday if at all possible, rather than after the other ceremonies. “There are a few places on campus that are very popular for photos, especially the berm at the end of Center Drive,” Behonick said. “Traffic tends to back up after Commencement while people take photos. Traffic would move much better if photos were taken earlier in the weekend.”

To accommodate the Graduate School ceremony, some of the Saturday recognition ceremonies have been moved from their traditional time slots. Graduates are not required to wear their caps and gowns to the recognition ceremonies, which provide an opportunity for students to be honored individually by their schools and residential areas.

For up-to-date information on the changes to the upcoming Commencement, visit the commencement web site..
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Last Updated: 10/14/08