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Colleges embrace graduation changes 

This year’s Cal Poly commencement will be anything but ordinary. Due to ongoing construction at Spanos Stadium, the Cal Poly class of 2006 will walk in seven separate ceremonies spread out over a span of eight days. Though no one at the school seems to know exactly what the new arrangement will cost, the general consensus is that this year’s graduation will be more expensive than were ceremonies in years past.

click to enlarge BUILD UP :  Construction at Cal Poly’s Spanos Stadium displaced this year’s graduation ceremonies. - PHOTO BY CHRISTOPHER GARDNER
  • BUILD UP : Construction at Cal Poly’s Spanos Stadium displaced this year’s graduation ceremonies.

# More than 3,700 students—ranging in age from 20 to 62—are eligible to participate in Cal Poly’s spring commencement ceremony, which began with the College of Education on June 4 in the Performing Arts Center and will end with the College of Liberal Arts on June 11 in the Upper Sports Field.

“The separate ceremonies give more of an in-house family identity,� said Carol Pendergast, advancement director for the College of Education. “It is powerful to focus the ceremony on your own students.�

In the past, all of Cal Poly’s colleges graduated on the same day in either a morning or an afternoon ceremony—and had little input in selecting keynote speakers and format.

“This year, we are having a 1974 alumni speaker, Nevada Barr, speak on a topic related to our college,� said Debra Valencia-Laver, associate dean with the College of Liberal Arts. “We also get to read all the participants’ names—something we usually don’t do in the June ceremony.�

In light of the changes, commencement officials have asked colleges to forego smaller departmental ceremonies.

“Departments like the smaller celebrations,� Valencia-Laver said in reference to past practices. “There are no limits on who can be invited to the departmental ceremonies.�

Though Cal Poly currently has no plans in the works to permanently switch to college-based graduation ceremonies, the possibility exists.

“We will wait and see if people are so pleased that it is worth the extra cost of numerous ceremonies,� said Ed Sullivan, associate dean with the College of Engineering. “We all like giving each student a chance to be recognized individually. It makes the ceremony a little more intimate.� ∆


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