Senior Commencement Split

Liana Teixeira

Due to a 15 to 20 percent increase in the number of seniors graduating this upcoming May compared to last year, the spring commencement ceremony, traditionally held in a single time slot, will now be split into two ceremonies.

President Kaplan informed students about this change at a Undergraduate Student Government Association meeting held on Nov. 1, where he addressed any questions or concerns.

Kaplan said UNH will host two ceremonies this spring, with two colleges in the morning ceremony at 10 a.m. and two colleges in the afternoon at 3 p.m. Both undergrads and graduates from the respective colleges will commence together.

So far, the college pairings have yet to be finalized, but according to Provost Daniel May, the most likely pairings will be the Colleges of Arts and Sciences and Business, and the Henry C. Lee College with the Tagliatela College of Engineering.

Talks of splitting the spring commencement ceremonies were happening as soon as September, after the administration had to shift 90 undergrads to the graduate afternoon ceremony the previous May.

In recent years, UNH moved spring commencement Oakdale Theater in Wallingford, due to space limitations on campus. Still, the increasing number of undergrads graduating each year has become a challenge even with a bigger venue.

Additionally, more students who are qualified to graduate after December are now opting to walk in May with the rest of their classmates, creating an even bigger influx of seniors.

Now, with commencement being split, a fairly even amount of students will fill both ceremonies, with approximately 800 in the morning session and 700 in the afternoon session.

However, only when the number of students who petitioned to graduate is calculated can an accurate number be reached.

“Our observations in prior years at Oakdale indicated that there were empty seats at the afternoon graduate ceremony, so we looked for a way to make the distribution more equitable,” said Kaplan.

One thing that will not change is the number of tickets available for families of the graduates. Like last year, four tickets will be reserved for each student. May said the plan is to notify students as early as Feb. 1, regarding what time they are assigned to walk.

In the future, looking to larger outside venues may be a possibility. Places like Mohegan Sun, the Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport and the Yale Bowl were discussed in the past. However, May said, Mohegan Sun is inconveniently far away and the Webster Bank Arena lacks the right atmosphere for a college graduation. Moreover, inclement weather has occurred during three of the last four spring commencements, making an outisde venue option unlikely.

“It is our expectation that this distribution of ceremonies will enable us to continue to produce a high quality Spring Commencement ceremony at Oakdale Theatre, at a venue that offers many amenities and the comfortable atmosphere our students and guests have come to appreciate,” Kaplan said.