Commencement is the culmination of students’ achievements in fulfilling the curricular requirements including attending classes, studying, writing papers, passing tests, and participating in service learning. It brings to closure a time when individuals formed lifelong friendships through participation in campus activities, sororities, fraternities, or living in the dorms. Commencement celebrations confer upon the recipient’s bachelor’s, master’s, specialist, and doctoral degrees.
A commencement exercise begins with a procession of the students, faculty, and administrators in academic regalia. The procession is most often led by the macebearer carrying the mace which symbolizes the authority granted by the Board of Trustees to the President of the University. A Grand Marshal (usually a professor) who presides over the ceremony follows the macebearer.
During the commencement ceremony, the deans present the degree candidates to the president of the university indicating the candidates have fulfilled the requirement for specific degrees. A very solemn moment of the commencement ceremony is when the president confers upon the candidates the degrees for which they were recommended and announces the graduates are forever alumni of the institution.
Commencement is an annual event at the University. The commencement program booklets for each annual ceremony held in the spring contain the names of those students who may have already graduated in the prior months or who are candidates to graduate before the end of the academic year.
The listing of graduates and their degrees in the respective commencement program is preliminary in some cases and is subject to final certification of graduation. The posting of the earned degree on the permanent transcript record in the Office of the University Registrar is the official testimony of possession of the degree. There will be names listed in each publication that may have not finished their degree requirements.
In addition to the student graduation information, the commencement booklets provide a history of the individuals who served as presidents of the university, deans of the respective colleges/schools, grand marshals, honorary degree recipients, and speakers at the graduation ceremonies. With the title of degrees granted in each booklet, it is also possible to determine when specific degrees programs were added or discontinued within the university.
D. Praet, Associate VP and University Registrar 11/4/2011