Documents provide further background on commencement ceremony changes announced Wednesday

Matthew Enfinger

Documents containing proposals for the spring 2019 commencement ceremony provide background to changes announced on Wednesday.

The decision to have two main ceremonies, a college specific ceremony and a university-wide ceremony, was made after study of practices at other universities similar to Georgia Southern University’s size, according to the university’s spring 2019 commencement FAQ page.

The proposals listed in the documents were developed by a committee that first met in June 2018, John Lester, interim vice president for strategic communications, said.

The committee solicited input from students, faculty and the deans before making a recommendation to the President Shelley Nickel’s Cabinet, according to the FAQ page.

The documents, dated December 2018, state two different options for the spring 2019 commencement ceremony and lists pros and cons of each.

Option 1: College-Based Commencement

Option 1 is label “College-Based Commencement” in which the location of the college ceremony would align with the colleges primary campus in either Savannah or Statesboro.

This would include a total of nine ceremonies that would span from May 10 to May 11, according to the proposal. Along with individual college ceremonies, a stand and confer ceremony that would include an estimated 2,750 graduates would occur at Paulson Stadium.

The proposal mentions many pros of this option, including individual recognition and shorter ceremonies, however it does mention a list of cons including that a graduate’s primary campus may differ from the college’s primary campus.

According to the proposal, approximately 375 Armstrong Campus graduates, 43 percent, would graduate in Statesboro and approximately 550 Statesboro campus graduates, 33 percent, would graduate in Savannah.

Those attending may not be able to, or desire to, attend one of the other college ceremonies, according to the proposal. Families and friends may also have to attend multiple ceremonies or could have conflicts with other ceremonies.

The final noted con specifies that Armstrong’s facilities would not be able to accommodate the number of graduates and guests in the largest college, making it necessary to hold the ceremonies at a larger, rented venue.

Pros for the stand and confer ceremony includes the an observance of tradition specifically “Freedom’s Flight” and would require just one speaker. Cons mentioned include that additional expenses would be required for the speaker whose name and cost is to be determined and an estimated cost of $10,000 for a second location in Statesboro.

All Armstrong and Liberty campus graduates would need to travel to the Statesboro campus for the stand and confer ceremony.

Option 2: Campus-based commencement

Option 2 would be similar to the existing commencement design held by both campuses, according to the proposal. Graduates would participate in ceremonies on their primary campus and location.

According to the proposal the Statesboro Campus would have an indoor graduate ceremony in Hanner Field house and an outdoor undergraduate ceremony at Paulson Stadium.

The Armstrong Campus ceremony would move to an outdoor ceremony, rain or shine, according to the proposal. An alternative location for the Armstrong Campus would be the Convention Center if the seating plan for the outdoor venue is unacceptable.

Option 2 would include three different ceremonies: a graduate ceremony with an estimated 450 graduates at Hanner Fieldhouse, an undergraduate and graduate ceremony with an estimated 800 graduates at the Armstrong Campus Intramural Fields and an undergraduate ceremony of an estimated 1,500 graduates at Paulson Stadium.

The proposal mentions many pros such as the “wow factor” of the large attendance and the possibility of having a well known speaker, however, it does specifically mention that a con of Option 2 is that it would continue to perpetuate a distinction between two universities following consolidation.

Other cons in Option 2 mention that the graduate ceremony in Hanner is nearing maximum capacity and there would be limited growth for future ceremonies if the graduating class of GS increases.

President’s decision

As announced on Wednesday the final decision for the spring 2019 commencement ceremony was Option 1: College-Based Commencement.

Schedules and locations for specific college graduations can be viewed here. The committee’s proposal can be viewed below. It should be noted that the schedule on the proposals are not the same as the final schedule listed on GS’ website.

Matthew Enfinger, The George-Anne Editor-in-Chief,