Mercyhurst is returning to its old tradition of holding both graduate and undergraduate commencement ceremonies in one day instead of two.
The Graduation Coordinating Committee, made up of six members across different administrative departments, ultimately made this decision.
Commencement, which will take place on May 22, 2016, was traditionally celebrated in one day, and several years back it was split into two. Undergraduates walked on Sunday and graduate and adult students walked on Saturday. This year the tradition of a combined ceremony is back.
“I think, first, it’s fiscally efficient to do one. Most universities do combine them, the masters and the undergraduate programs,” said Betsy Frank, director of executive office projects and events, and member of the committee. “I think it gives such a celebratory feeling for the university, as we’re one university.”
The commencement ceremony has moved locations several times in the past. It used to be held at the Warner Theater, then moved to the Tullio Civic Center, but due to renovations it was moved for two years to the Bayfront Convention Center. That venue was tight in terms of space, so students were limited to inviting a specific number of guests.
Like the 2015 ceremony, this year’s commencement will take place at the Erie Insurance Arena (formerly the Tullio arena), where space will not be an issue, according to Sister Patricia Whalen, registrar and committee member.
Logistically, the ceremony will not change much.
“The lineup is the challenge but there’s plenty of room in the arena,” said Whalen.“We’ll probably just put the graduate students, then the undergraduates behind them. That may shift. We have so many months to think about that.”
Senior Alyssa Dean said she is worried about the ceremony being too long.
“I’m not a fan of this in any way because there are enough students to try to get across that stage in a somewhat reasonable amount of time but adding all the grad students to that mix will make it outrageously long,” Dean said.
The committee is aware of these concerns.
“Timing is an important thing and we’re looking at that, not to add anything that would lengthen it,” Whalen said.
Whalen and Frank both said they enjoy working to make graduation a special day for all involved.
“I think we intend to maintain the same quality of commencement that we’ve had in the past, the same kind of spirit that we’ve had and the same kind distinctive commencement,” Whalen said.