Commencement Ceremony Changes

May 2017 commencement will take place in Pershing Arena because of upcoming construction on Stokes Stadium.

Because Pershing accommodates fewer people, commencement will occur in three ceremonies, divided by those earning a bachelor of arts, bachelor of science and masters degree. While commencement normally runs from 2-4 p.m., this year the first ceremony will begin at 9 a.m. May 13, and the third ceremony will end around 6 p.m.

Registrar Maggie Herron says Pershing was selected because it is the next biggest venue in Kirksville that can fit large numbers of people. Herron says her office usually anticipates about 1,000 graduates and assumes each graduate will bring a minimum of four people. Herron says in addition to the graduates and their families, seating must also be allotted for the orchestra and people working the event. Herron says Pershing is not large enough to accommodate the anticipated number.

Herron says having three separate ceremonies made sense because her office did not want to limit the number of guests graduates can bring, and hosting multiple ceremonies prevented having to limit how many people could come. Herron says she analyzed Testing and Assessments to look at the number of people receiving each degree, including Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science and master’s degrees.

Herron says getting everyone in and out will be a challenge. She says her office is working with the Department of Public Safety, the University president and the provost to figure out how to get attendees out of Pershing after the first ceremony while  allowing plenty of time for attendees to the next ceremony to get seated. She says parking logistics will also be addressed.

“Our ultimate goal is to make sure [the graduates] and their families walk away from the day feeling happy and good about what they’ve accomplished here at Truman,” Herron says.

Professor Mark Smith says he and professor David Price act as co-executive producers of graduation ceremonies. Smith says students help to livestream and record the ceremony. Smith says Pershing is a more confined space than Stokes, and camera placement could be difficult, so as not to obstruct anyone’s view of the ceremony or walkways. Smith says he initially thought audio could be a problem, but he has found a solution. He says it is possible to tap the camera audio into the public address system in Pershing to get a better audio quality. Smith says three ceremonies will make for a long day for the students helping to film graduation, but he thinks it is a great experience for students to have.

Public Relations Director Heidi Templeton says she will put out press releases and articles in Truman Today to explain the logistics of commencement. Templeton says one of the perks of being a small school is the ability to communicate with everyone. Templeton says she wants people to understand that while three ceremonies might seem complicated, the intention is to allow graduates to bring everyone they want to bring to their ceremony.

Updates about the commencement can be found on the registrar’s website.