CSUN Commencement Revamped to Accommodate Growing Number of Grads
As the number of students who graduate from California State University, Northridge continues to increase each year, CSUN officials have revamped the university’s commencement exercises to ensure there are enough seats for guests of the graduates.
Instead of nine separate ceremonies in a single week, this spring there will be seven graduation exercises over the course of four days. And, recognizing that the campus physically can’t accommodate all who wish to attend the ceremonies, CSUN officials will follow the example of hundreds of universities and colleges across the country and require guest tickets of those attending a ceremony. Graduating students will be able to request up to seven guest tickets for family members and friends.
“Throughout the discussions about modifying and revising our ceremonies, we have been at all times resolute that the commencement ceremonies really ought to be remarkable and memorable as we could possibly make them for our graduates and their guests,” said William Watkins, CSUN’s vice president for student affairs. “While we found it necessary to move from completely open ceremonies, all of the significant features of the ceremonies, in particular bringing personal recognition to graduates and their achievements, will continue in 2014 and into the future.
“These changes were not made without a lot of careful consideration and reconsideration following discussions with our student leaders,” he continued. “It’s important for people to remember that this is not the first time that the university has had to refine its commencement process. This is the probably the ninth time that we have had to make adjustments based on facilities and/or the increasing number of our students who successfully complete their degrees. And we will continue to adjust in the future as circumstances warrant it.”
CSUN’s Honors Convocation will take place at 6 p.m. on the lawn in front of the Delmar T. Oviatt Library on Friday, May 16. The commencement ceremony for the Mike Curb College of Arts, Media, and Communication will take place the following Monday, May 19, at 8 a.m. on the Oviatt Library lawn, with the College of Health and Human Development’s ceremony taking place at 6 p.m. that day on the lawn.
The graduation ceremony for the undergraduates from the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences will take place at 8 a.m. on Wednesday, May 21, on the Oviatt Library lawn. The ceremony for the master’s candidates from that college has been combined with the graduation ceremonies for the College of Engineering and Computer Science and the College of Science and Mathematics, which will take place at 6 p.m. on May 21 on the Oviatt Library lawn.
The university’s commencement exercises will culminate on Thursday, May 22, with the ceremony for the College of Business and Economics taking place at 8 a.m. on the Oviatt Library lawn and the ceremonies for the College of Humanities and the Michael D. Eisner College of Education taking place at 6 p.m. in the same location.
In the past 10 years, the university has experienced a 33 percent increase in the number of students participating in one of eight college-based commencement ceremonies, which were hosted in two different locations on campus — the lawn in front of the Oviatt Library and the lawn south of Manzanita Hall over the course of one week. Six ceremonies took place within the span of two days, with three graduations each day.
Unfortunately, Watkins said, attendance at several of last year’s ceremonies, which included nearly 7,000 graduating students, substantially exceeded available seating and caused concerns among university officials about public safety and the university’s ability to properly host its guests.
“As such, President Dianne F. Harrison asked that the format, location and timing of our ceremonies be reviewed with two primary goals: one reducing the total number of ceremonies; and two, addressing safety concerns,” Watkins said.
After considering a wide range of options and consulting with student and faculty leaders and college deans, university officials chose to host all future commencement ceremonies on the Oviatt Library lawn. To make this possible, seating at the site will be increased to accommodate 10,500 graduates and their guests at each ceremony. In order to ensure adequate seating for everyone, guests of the graduates will need a ticket to gain admittance to the venue. Each graduate will be able to obtain up to seven guest tickets. Any tickets that are not requested will be available to graduates who need additional seats for their guests. The graduates themselves will not need tickets to participate in the ceremony in which their degrees are being conferred.
Aside from these changes, Watkins said graduation exercises at Cal State Northridge will continue as they always have, including CSUN’s well-established tradition of having each graduate’s name read while she or he walks across the stage to receive a congratulatory handshake from the president or other university officials.
“Commencement is a time for celebration for the graduates and their friends and family members, and for the university community has a whole,” Watkins said. “It is the pinnacle of academic recognition for CSUN and its increasingly large number of students who will be the first in their families to hold a college degree, and we are doing everything we can to ensure that everyone in attendance can enjoy the occasion safely.”