Two undergraduate commencement ceremonies will maintain tradition, shorten events

ISU commencement

Iowa State graduates celebrate following commencement at Hilton Coliseum. File photo by Christopher Gannon.

AMES, Iowa -- Iowa State University will split its undergraduate commencement into two ceremonies on the same day this spring, with graduates from three colleges recognized at each. The change was announced today by President Wendy Wintersteen and proposed by a task force that spent several months studying various options and surveyed the senior class for student input.

A ceremony for students in the colleges of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Business and Liberal Arts and Sciences will begin at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 5; a ceremony for students in the colleges of Design, Engineering and Human Sciences will begin at 2:30 p.m., both in Hilton Coliseum. This should result in a similar number of graduates at the two events.

For the last two years, undergraduate commencement was held outdoors at Jack Trice Stadium, in part to provide unlimited seating for students' families and friends. But record-high graduating classes on the heels of a 40 percent enrollment surge added length to a single ceremony.

The intent of two ceremonies is to provide all graduates with the elements they seek in their graduation day. That includes having their names read as they walk across the stage, seating for an unlimited number of guests, a shorter event and multiple colleges sharing a ceremony so new grads can celebrate with friends.

Leaders representing all of Iowa State's divisions, traditionally a part of the university community on the commencement stage, will be split among the two undergraduate events, as will student marshals. Several university officials -- the president, senior vice president and provost, and senior vice president for student affairs -- will attend both. The president's remarks typically will replace a commencement speaker, but the president has the flexibility to invite a speaker(s) if she prefers.

Impact to college events

The addition of a Saturday morning commencement means that the larger college convocations, which also use Hilton, must be scheduled on Friday. This includes the colleges of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Business, Human Sciences and Liberal Arts and Sciences. On Saturday morning, the College of Design will use Stephens Auditorium and the College of Engineering, which prefers to recognize its students at department-level receptions, will continue this tradition at locations across campus.

Under the new schedule, final exams will conclude Thursday evening instead of Friday noon. The exception is the Online Testing Center, which will remain open Friday. The two Friday morning exam periods were moved back to Tuesday, May 1, one in the afternoon and one in the evening.

Graduate events

The university's Graduate College commencement will stay in its Thursday slot, beginning at 7 p.m. on May 3 in Hilton Coliseum. The College of Veterinary Medicine, which graduates a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine cohort every spring, will continue to hold its ceremony at midday Saturday in Stephens Auditorium. The start time has been pushed back 30 minutes, to 12:30 p.m.