FHSU Commencement Three separate graduation ceremonies needed to accommodate increasing numbers of graduates

04/30/12 ks

HAYS, Kan. -- With graduation numbers continuing to rise, Fort Hays State University will continue to recognize graduate and undergraduate students in separate ceremonies. Students who are receiving advanced degrees will participate in Commencement at 7 p.m. Friday, May 11, in Gross Memorial Coliseum, which is immediately adjacent to the U.S. 183 Bypass on the south side of the FHSU campus. Students who are receiving associate and bachelor's degrees will participate in Commencement at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 12, also in Gross Memorial Coliseum.

In addition, members of the second graduating class of the Kansas Academy of Mathematics and Science, which is hosted at FHSU, will have their own Commencement a week earlier at 3 p.m. Saturday, May 5, in the Memorial Union Ballroom.

FHSU has more than doubled its enrollment over the past decade, climbing above 13,000 at the end of the fall 2011 semester, and there has been a corresponding explosion in the number of graduates. Although the numbers may change slightly when the degree-checking process concludes, the Registrar's Office projects there will be 3,151 graduates this year, which includes associate, bachelor and graduate-level degrees. That is an all-time record and the first time the number of graduates has exceeded 3,000. The degrees will go to students who completed graduation requirements in summer 2011, fall 2011 and spring 2012. This year's total of 3,151 compares to 2,661 last year. As recently as 2005, FHSU had only 1,374 graduates.

By holding a separate Commencement for graduate students on Friday night, which includes the traditional hooding ceremony, overcrowding can be avoided at the traditional Saturday morning Commencement. It also ensures the larger Saturday morning ceremony can be completed in comfortably less than two hours.

Doors will open at GMC for graduate students and their guests at 6 p.m. Friday, May 11. A reception will follow the graduate Commencement in GMC's Victor E. Lounge.

Doors will open at GMC for undergraduates and their guests at 8 a.m. Saturday, May 12. Everyone is encouraged to arrive early.

All the Commencement ceremonies are free and open to families of graduates and to all friends of the university. No tickets are required. Ed McKechnie, chair of the Kansas Board of Regents,will present a short address at the graduate and undergraduate Commencements. Brenda Meder, director of the Hays Arts Council, will announce the names of graduates as they receive their degrees. Dr. Edward H. Hammond, FHSU president, and Dr. Larry Gould, FHSU provost, also will make brief remarks during the ceremonies.

The Torch, Pilot and Navigator awards will be presented at the Graduate Faculty Brunch at 11:30 a.m. Friday, May 11, which is open to all members and guests of the Class of 2012. Recipients of the three awards will be seated on the platform and recognized during Commencement on Saturday morning.

Because seating in GMC quickly reaches capacity, FHSU offers several other options for viewing Commencement. The entire Saturday morning ceremony will be broadcast live to Beach/Schmidt Performing Arts Center in Sheridan Hall. With its air conditioning, easy access and comfortable seating, the performing arts center may be the preferred choice as a viewing site for many people.

Special seating is available in both GMC and Beach/Schmidt for people with disabilities. Rebecca Luedders will interpret for the hearing-impaired in GMC, and she will be easily visible in an inset on the large screen at Beach/Schmidt.

Both the Friday night Commencement and the Saturday morning Commencement will be broadcast live by the FHSU student TV station, KFHS; on Eagle Communication cable channels in Hays, Ellis, Russell and WaKeeney; and to dozens of other communities in western and north central Kansas on the Nex-Tech cable system. In addition, the university will make Commencement available both live and for delayed viewing over the Internet so that family and friends can watch the ceremony from distant locations. Those wishing to view the ceremony on a computer should download Windows Media Player. The address for the online broadcast is http://www.fhsu.edu/commencement.

To order a DVD of Commencement, send a check payable to FHSU in the amount of $17 to CTELT, Fort Hays State University, 600 Park St., Hays, KS 67601. Please include your full mailing address. For further information, call 785-628-5964.

Gates at GMC will open at 8 a.m. on Saturday. Graduates should park on the main campus and gather in the hallways of adjacent Cunningham Hall by 9:15 a.m.; all others are asked to enter GMC through Gates 1, 2, 3 or 4. Traffic in the GMC area is extremely heavy for Commencement. Parking lots adjacent to GMC typically fill up by 9 a.m., so those arriving after that time are encouraged to park on the main campus. In the event of rain, unpaved lots near GMC will be closed, making it necessary to park on the main campus.

Shuttle bus service will be provided on Saturday between the campus and GMC. The shuttle buses will stop in parking lots and wherever drivers see people walking to or from GMC.

Graduates and faculty will be seated on the main floor of GMC. Relatives and friends of the graduates will be seated in the bleachers and the balcony. Seating for the disabled will be available in the bleacher areas on either side in front of the stage. One person may accompany an individual requiring seating in these areas. Drivers will find Gates 2 and 3, at the northwest and southwest corners, most convenient for dropping off passengers with disabilities. This area fills quickly so plan to arrive early at GMC or view the ceremony at Beach/Schmidt.

While Commencement is a time of celebration, Fort Hays State University asks those who attend to show decorum appropriate to the occasion. Air horns and other noisemakers are not allowed in GMC. Please do not applaud individual graduates because loud demonstrations are discourteous, drowning out the names of the graduates who follow. An appropriate time for applause will be announced. The audience is also asked to refrain from moving around, and graduates should remain for the entire ceremony.

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