Administration changes graduation ceremony

Seniors this year will be the first UVM students to graduate with their entire class. Unlike previous years, the University has made commencement into a single ceremony rather than separate ceremonies for each of the schools and colleges.”We really want to make a statement that we are a University and want to give students a chance to walk across the stage at once,” UVM Vice President of Executive Operations and Chief of Staff Gary Derr said.  “We want to say that we are one main university.”The University also saved close to $175,000 by joining ceremonies, President Daniel Mark Fogel said.However, not all students are excited about the change.”By having such a large graduation, I think it takes away that special experience students get to share within their major,” senior Kate Rooney said.Rooney is a nursing student and said she was looking forward to separate ceremonies because she has smaller class sizes and has spent her four years at UVM with the same group of students.Although there are drawbacks to having a single ceremony, Fogel said that the University is confident that the change will be better for students and families.”I have high hopes that this year’s ceremony will be a pilot that people will find gratifying and rewarding,” he said. “Now we’re going to celebrate as a main university.””[Combining colleges and schools] is more cost effective and may be more effective in terms of other resources, like people’s time,” President Fogel said.Although the actual graduation time is longer, the total amount of time that people save during the day is shorter because people don’t have to travel off campus, he said.”We simply ran out of hours in the day,” Derr said.Graduation this year will last about 3 hours, 30 minutes, he said.Senior Jesse Curran felt that although three and a half hours is a long time, graduation is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.Curran, who is in the School of Business and Administration, also values the benefit of being able to see all of his friends walk across the stage, rather than just the students in his school.”The biggest part for me is that you get to see all of your friends graduate, not just the people in your school or college,” Curran said. “I can put up with an extra hour and a half to see that.”President Fogel said that it is a great advantage that students on graduation day will now all stay on campus and will all stay in one place.In previous years, three of the seven undergraduate colleges didn’t have their graduation ceremonies on campus, Derr said. They were either at the Sheraton or the Flynn Center downtown.Despite concerns, Fogel said that he felt people generally seem to understand that the change is well motivated and worth a try.”Commencement is an extremely important day in the lives of graduates and also in the academic life of the colleges and universities, and we want to make it special,” President Fogel said. “All of these efforts are aimed achieving that.”