By Sean Robinson, Senior Staff Writer
Thomas Wallace, UNO’s new vice chancellor for student affairs, promised students early last semester he would begin new traditions around campus. He begins the new by breaking one of UNO’s oldest traditions by the end of this summer.
On Jan. 28 the University of Nebraska Board of regents voted to eliminate the August graduation commencement ceremony. The remaining two ceremonies in May and December will be held on campus from now on.
“The guiding principle in this decision was to bring the ceremonies back to campus, hoping to initiate a stronger tradition at UNO.” Wallace said.
Following months of planning with a commencement committee of 22 students, staff, faculty and three deans, the group decided holding the ceremony on campus was the most logical decision. This May will be the last ceremony at the traditional location of the Civic Auditorium. The location of December’s ceremony will most likely be the Sapp Field House. Starting May 2012, spring commencement will likely be held on Caniglia Field.
Students who opt to graduate in the summer needn’t feel cheated. Any student planning to graduate in August can now choose to participate in either the May or December ceremonies. There will still be three graduation periods, but only two commencement ceremonies will be held.
With the change of location, the committee hopes to boost ceremony attendance. About 40 percent of graduates typically don’t attend.
“Any change that they think will get more people there, I support,” said sophomore Demi Kulper. “I honestly have no idea why students wouldn’t attend. I think it’s silly you don’t attend your own graduation. I mean you’ve gone through so much in the past four, five, or more years, why not go to rejoice and be happy that you’re done?”
The committee explored five to six different options before deciding UNO would be the new location. Some included keeping it at the Civic or moving it to the Qwest Center.
The committee has yet to decide if the actual ceremony itself will receive a facelift, too. Details are still in the works.
The committee looked at campuses from the University of Florida to Washburn University and most had only two ceremonies.
However, the choice to eliminate the August ceremony was based on what’s believed to be best for students and was not meant to mirror other institutions.
“Graduates’ experiences can’t be highlighted elsewhere off campus, so it makes sense to bring it to UNO. As graduates, you deserve this experience.”