Third graduation ceremony added to ease overcrowding in April

GVL/Emily Frye - Jesse Vogt awaits the start of winter commencement Saturday, December 12, 2015.

Emily Frye

GVL/Emily Frye – Jesse Vogt awaits the start of winter commencement Saturday, December 12, 2015.

Bennett Slavsky

With the ever-increasing student body at Grand Valley State University, the graduation commencement ceremonies were beginning to get too long. A change needed to be implemented to make the day of commencement special and personal for the graduates and their families.

The graduating class of 2017 will be the first in GVSU history to have three commencement ceremonies in April 2017. After four year, and sometimes more than that, graduation day is a monumental day for students and their family.

With only two ceremonies, some felt the ceremonies were being rushed because of the over-crowding.

“The optimum size for a two-hour ceremony is about 1,000 students. Last year we had over 1,800 in each,” said Gayle Davis, provost and executive vice president for academic and student affairs. “Each student deserves their moment and it got to the point where we were just rushing people across the stage.”

When Davis first began as provost 15 years ago, there was only one commencement ceremony. It was manageable for a few years, but as the student body continued to grow, they needed to adapt and added a second ceremony. Now, a decade down the road, the university is facing the same issues and adding yet another ceremony. Davis said hopefully GVSU will never have to expand to a fourth ceremony or divide ceremonies by school. She believes the university is at a happy and manageable number of students right now, but only time will tell.

Davis said there were two main factors that came into play when making this decision. The first and obvious reason was the sheer number of students. The second was the growing number of graduate school programs and graduate students. Many have earned their doctoral degree, which is a great achievement and deserves great recognition. Considering this fact, it was clear to her that the commencement ceremonies needed to be spread out and slowed down.

Another key factor that came into play was the number of tickets available to each student. Last year, each student could only acquire five tickets, which could prove difficult if a student wished to invite more than the allotted number of family members to share their special day with. With a third ceremony added to the agenda, students will be allowed nine tickets, nearly doubling last year’s number. This way, all friends and family will be able to attend and show their support to the graduate.

“Grand Valley’s goal in adding a third ceremony is to have a good and personal experience for the student and their family at commencement,” said Bob Stoll, associate dean for student life.