Graduation GrowthMarch 3, 2009
The record number of spring 2008 graduates that strained Ferrell Center capacity has prompted Baylor officials to increase the number of commencement ceremonies in spring 2009.
During the two commencements held in May 2008, more than 1,900 students graduated: a record number. The large crowd that showed up required Baylor officials to provide an overflow viewing area.
Since forecasts of the number of students expected to graduate in spring 2009 promised an even larger attendance, a change was required, said Dr. Elizabeth Davis, BBA '84, interim provost and professor of accounting. The Provost's Office began to discuss alternatives with various academic units, commencement officials and student groups.
Three options were considered and rejected: limiting to 10 the number of guests a graduate could invite, having a "mass graduation," where individual student names were not called, and allowing each academic unit to have its own, smaller commencement ceremony.
"Telling people they couldn't watch their student walk the stage and hear his or her name called was unacceptable to us," Davis said. "And we know that many academic units have a special identity, but we believe that the commencement exercise needs to reflect the fact that we're all part of one Baylor community."
It soon became clear that the number of commencement ceremonies needed to be increased from two to three, and it was decided to have one commencement on Friday afternoon, May 15, and then have the two remaining ceremonies on Saturday, May 16.
The addition of a Friday ceremony means that the previously scheduled last day of class for the spring 2009 term -- Monday, May 4 -- has been canceled, and each of the study days and exam days will be moved to a day earlier than previously scheduled.
"Dropping a class day is not something we do lightly, but the only way we could guarantee we'd have a certified graduation, where students receive a diploma when they walk the stage instead of just an empty cardboard tube, was to back things up and remove a day," Davis said.
A full list of which academic units will graduate in each commencement ceremony is available on the Baylor commencement Web site at www.baylor.edu/commencement.
Davis praised how smoothly the Baylor family made the transition to the new schedule.
"Changes that affect everyone across campus require major communications efforts and people working in good faith with each other," she said. "I'm very pleased with how this all worked out. Everyone was striving to do what is best for our students."