After campus construction forced the spring 2010 commencement ceremony to take place at the Metrodome, the class of 2011 will graduate on St. Thomas’ St. Paul campus this May.
Senior Katie Wood said she would have been disappointed if graduation was at the Metrodome again.
“I like traditions, so that’s why I’m excited to walk through the arches on campus for graduation,” Wood said. “I feel bad for last year’s graduating class because they didn’t get that.”
The undergraduate ceremony will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday, May 21, in O’Shaughnessy Stadium. Liz Pojar, commencement coordinator, said an estimated 1,200 undergraduates will be graduating. She expects 8,000 to 10,000 people to fill the stadium. There will be 6,500 chairs on the field and about 3,500 bleacher seats available.
“It will be first-come, first-serve,” Pojar said. “There is plenty of space since we’re putting more chairs on the field this year, and we have accessible seating areas for those in wheelchairs.”
The graduate ceremony, not including Opus College of Business students, will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 21, in the Anderson Athletic and Recreation Complex field house. The business graduate students’ ceremony will be at 7 p.m.
Pojar said the morning graduate class consists of 661 students, 200 students more than 2009.
“This is our first year with no December commencement, so we think a lot of graduate students who were done in December or January are waiting and participating in May,” she said. “That’s why our numbers are so high.”
Pojar said there are 350 business graduate students. She said there will be 4,400 chairs set up in the field house for the graduate ceremonies, and she’s expecting the seats to fill up for the morning ceremony.
Receptions in the Upper Quad will follow the graduate and undergraduate ceremonies.
Pojar said the undergraduate ceremony will be moved inside the field house if it rains, and students will be given three tickets for family members to attend the ceremony. If students have more than three family members attending, they can watch the ceremony in designated classrooms on campus. She said the decision to move inside wouldn’t be made until after the morning graduate ceremony.
Senior Chris Sliwinski said he’s praying it doesn’t rain.
“I will definitely be bummed and upset if it got moved inside,” he said. “I have a bigger family. I’ve gone here for four years and spent lots of money. It would be a bummer if my family couldn’t see me walk.”
Senior Abby Wilkinson said she has about 14 people attending the ceremony.
“It’d be fine if it was moved inside,” she said. “I would just make my mom choose the three that could watch in the field house, since she invited all of them.”
Pojar said moving the ceremony inside will be a tough decision to make, but she has talked to several parents who thought they wouldn’t be able to see their children walk at all, and they are pleased with the three tickets.
“It is a better plan than when we had the old space, because our rain plan was in the old Schoenecker Arena, which was only large enough to have the students and faculty inside and the people on the platform,” she said. “So this is nice. Even though students wouldn’t be able to have every single guest coming watch them, it is a big improvement to have three.”
Pojar said the last time they used the rain plan was in 2006, and she hopes they don’t have to use it this year.
The St. Paul Bookstore will host a “Grad Fest” from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday, April 13, and Thursday, April 14, in the St. Paul campus bookstore atrium. Caps, gowns, tassels and five free announcements will be distributed, Pojar said. She also said undergraduate caps and gowns are free with a photo ID.
Students unable to attend the grad fest can pick up their gown and tassels at the bookstore from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. May 10-13 and May 17-19, and from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday, May 20.
Pojar also said students can get pictures taken and order diploma frames and graduation announcements at the grad fest.
She said students can check the participation list to make sure they will be walking in May. If their name isn’t on it, they are not cleared for graduation and need to meet with their adviser.
For more about the commencement ceremonies, students can join the “University of St. Thomas Commencement 2011” Facebook group or visit the commencement website at http://www.stthomas.edu/commencement/undergraduate/default.html.
Ashley Stewart can be reached at email@example.com.