With December graduation looming for SFA seniors, the office of academic affairs has sent an email to annoounce the commencement exercises have again been split into two separate ceremonies. The ceremonies, one at 9:30 a.m. and the other at 2 p.m., will be held Saturday, Dec. 14, in the William R. Johnson Coliseum.
This is the second time in SFA will split ceremonies, with the first split being in May 2013. This is due to a high number of expected graduates and to make the ceremonies more comfortable to those in attendance.
“At that point in time, we were looking at over 1,300 who had applied to graduate in the May class,” Lynda Langham, registrar, said. “Obviously we were having to make a lot of decisions about where to sit people , and it just turned out to be the best option to split it to have the most comfortable number for everybody to deal with, and from a safety perspective as well.”
The 9:30 a.m. ceremony will host candidates from the James I. Perkins College of Education and the College of Fine Arts. The 2 p.m. ceremony will host candidates from the Arthur Temple College of Forestry and Agriculture, the Nelson Rusche College of Business, The College of Liberal and Applied Arts and the College of Sciences and Mathematics.
The Coliseum can only hold about 1,300 people on the floor, including students and faculty. When the number of students who apply to graduate reaches a certain number, around 1,000, the administration must make a decision on whether or not to split ceremonies to avoid overcrowding.
So far, more than 1,000 students have applied to graduate Dec. 14. Each ceremony should host around 500 students to decrease traffic and provide more space for attendee’s.
“We want to make it comfortable and safe, for everyone that’s involved,” Langham said.
According to Langham, it’s not uncommon for universities to split commencement ceremonies.
“A big concern was getting people in and out of the parking area,” Langham said. “From my understanding and from the feedback I got, everything went very well with the two ceremonies. We were very pleased.”
Students who plan on graduating Dec. 14 and do not plan to walk the stage during the commencement ceremony should notify the registrar’s office. Langham estimates about 80 percent of graduates usually walk for the ceremony.
For students who do plan to walk Dec. 14 and have already applied for graduation, the only thing left to do is to buy their cap and gown and/or send out graduation announcements to friends and family.
“A notification went out as quickly as it could, students accommodated and made changes to their schedules. As far as the ceremonies themselves with the change, we have to do some sprucing up in between to reset and that all went very well,” Langham said.
Seniors who are double majoring in different schools and are confused about which commencement ceremony should visit the registrar’s office located on the second floor of the Rusk Building. They can email the registrar at firstname.lastname@example.org or call at (936) 468-2501.
According to Langham, the commencement ceremonies should not take too long. There are a lot of factors to determine how long the ceremony will last, but Langham estimates the 9:30 a.m. ceremony will get out by noon at the latest and the 2 o’clock ceremony by 5 p.m. at the latest.
The first time SFA split the ceremonies in May, there was a record-breaking 1,285 students who earned their degrees. But diplomas are not sent out to graduates until about six weeks after graduation, due to final grades being processed.
Grades begin processing the Wednesday after graduation, Dec. 18. After the outstanding grades are put into the system, final grades will be displayed in the students’ transcript on their mySFA accounts.
According to Langham, the turn-around for final grades being posted is usually quick and within a couple of weeks of graduation.
“The fact that you participate in commencement, because grades are not in yet, is not a determining factor on if you’re actually going to graduate or not,” Langham said. “That’s determined after those grades come in and they plug in that final bit of information into your program. If you’ve complied with everything at that point in time, they confirm you’re going to graduate.”
Students can also email email@example.com for questions regarding graduation.
For updates from the registrar’s office, like their page at Facebook.com/SFARegistrarsOffice and follow their twitter @SFARegistrar.
“We’re very excited and looking forward to graduation,” Langham said. “This is one of the most fun processes and rewarding processes for our office because it’s a very big step in our students lives to come across that threshold of becoming a student out into their career. We very much enjoy this ceremony for that reason.”