Changes in the Commencement Ceremony for 2004 Graduates

If you are a senior, graduation is on your mind, whether you are enjoying the home stretch of classes, or anxiously counting your credits and trying to fulfill your remaining requirements. Whatever the case, when Sunday May 23rd arrives many of you will celebrate your achievements and become the 200th class to graduate from the University of Vermont. Yes, the 200th class; a historic year for the university and the state of Vermont, and part of the reason for a substantial change of the commencement ceremony.

Imagine looking out at the UVM green through the second floor window of the Waterman building staircase. UVM flags and banners outline the 9,000 seats of family and friends, and trumpets from all corners of campus sound the call of commencement as graduating seniors are spotted marching toward the stage extended from the steps of Waterman.

Instead of the generic black robes worn at previous commencements, the graduates are now wearing specially designed green and gold robes.

To one side of the stage there is a choir, and at the back of the stage there are two jumbo-tron screens illustrating commencement speakers with scenes of UVM and its students. All of these envisioned elements will be a reality this spring and in future commencements. “Substantially changing the ceremony will emphasize the importance of commencement,” says John Gates, Chief of Staff and Special Assistant to the President and Provost. “As a symbol of academic expression, this will be a most lively and invigorating event that we hope will instill tremendous pride in the graduates,” explains Gates. It is intended that this ceremony will celebrate the past 200 years of the commencements and set the standard for the next 200 years of graduation ceremonies.

In previous years commencement was held at Centennial field, but this year it will be held on the UVM green. President Fogel believes that the “focus of the ceremony should be on the graduates and the university,” therefore it is more sensible to hold commencement in a location that is “more central to their experience.”

This year President Fogel will be speaking at the ceremony in lieu of a celebrity guest speaker. His speech will “elucidate the future of UVM by expressing our shared vision and values and how the university perceives of its role in the world,” says Gates. The commencement ceremony is part of an effort to raise the standards for the university and to articulate its ambitions in education.

As a continuation of this effort to improve the personification of the university, the language and size of all UVM diplomas, undergraduate, graduate, and doctorate, will be changed. The undergraduate diploma will be enlarged to an 8×10 inch document. This is approximately an increase of 300% from the former size of UVM undergraduate diplomas.

The new diploma will be comparable to those of other institutions, and it will be more suitable for framing. The graduate diplomas will be slightly larger that the undergraduate, and the doctorate diplomas will be slightly larger that the graduate. It is hoped that these modifications will help to eradicate some generic symbols that are currently used at this University.