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Saturday, September 20, 2014 | Last updated: 3:03pm

Colleges' graduation events unaffected by cancellation of fall commencement



Correction: The original online and print versions of this article incorrectly attributed to Elaine Marchello, assistant dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, the statement that “one of the few issues affecting CALS’ fall ceremony is that it cannot take place in McKale Center, which will be under renovation.” The correct statement from Marchello indicated that the only thing that would affect the college’s two annual graduation ceremonies is that McKale Center will be under renovation in May. The Daily Wildcat regrets the error.

The announcement of the indefinite cancellation of the UA’s fall commencement ceremony has yielded mixed reactions from students and faculty.

Andrew Comrie, senior vice president for Academic Affairs & Provost, cited no reason for the elimination of the ceremony in an email announcing the cancellation to students.

The announcement confirmed that the cancellation of the school-wide ceremony will not affect the individual colleges’ convocations, which are ceremonies that allow students to walk and be acknowledged, but technically confer no degree.

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By Rebecca Marie Sasnett / The Daily Wildcat
Fall 2013 graduates celebrate the end of their college careers by having a snowball fight with styrofoam balls at the end of the University of Arizona's 149th Commencment Ceremony on Dec. 21.

Ann Samuelson, College of Social and Behavioral Sciences anthropology adviser, said that the SBS convocation will continue as planned. She said the students she advises do not seem concerned about the elimination of the fall commencement.

“They like the personalization of going to our college one instead of the big university one,” Samuelson said.

Elaine Marchello, assistant dean in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, said that the CALS December convocation ceremony will also still take place.

“We’ve always had two ceremonies,” Marchello said. “We will continue to do that.”

The only thing affecting the college’s spring ceremony is that it will not be able to take place in McKale Center, which will be under renovation, Marchello said. The CALS ceremony will take place at the Tucson Community Center instead.

Students who graduate in December are being given the option to participate in Spring Commencement prior to or following their scheduled graduation, Marchello said. She added that this alternative may not be convenient for students who don’t live in the area.

“For those who are coming from out of state, it’s not really going to be feasible for them to come back,” Marchello said.

Marchello said college convocations provide individual student acknowledgement that the university-wide ceremony can’t.

“Ours is the one that really lets them be celebrated individually,” Marchello said. ”It gives them an opportunity to wear their gorgeous shoes and decorate their hats and do all the fun stuff that graduation is about.”

Karen Van Winkle, program coordinator for the College of Engineering, said some of her December graduates have seemed upset that there will not be a university-wide ceremony, and added that she was offended by the lack of consultation between President Ann Weaver Hart and college administrators before the decision was made.

“I think that when you have students that spend thousands of dollars getting an education, that if you can’t provide them with a two or three hour ceremony … it’s a real shame,” Van Winkle said.

Local businesses will lose revenue due to the cancellation, Van Winkle said, because family members of graduating students often visit local hotels and restaurants in the days leading up to the December commencement.

“If you walk in [the UofA Bookstore] in December or May there are tons of families that are picking up sweatshirts and shirts,” Van Winkle said.

Van Winkle said she thinks the UA may lose the loyalty of future alumni, and subsequently donations, due to the cancellation.

“As long as the state continues to drop our funding, we have to find funding other ways,” Van Winkle said. “The only way we’re going to find it is through our alumni.”


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