FHSU Commencement to recognize more than 3,000 grads

05/06/14 ks local, area, key

HAYS, Kan. -- Fort Hays State University, the fastest growing university in the Kansas Board of Regents system and one of the fastest growing in the nation, will recognize more than 3,000 graduates in three separate ceremonies this month.

Students who are receiving advanced degrees will participate in Commencement at 6 p.m. Friday, May 16, 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 17, also in Gross Memorial Coliseum.

In addition, members of the fourth graduating class of the Kansas Academy of Mathematics and Science, which is located at FHSU, will have their own Commencement a week earlier at 3 p.m. Saturday, May 10, in the Memorial Union Ballroom.

These will be the last graduation ceremonies presided over by Dr. Edward H. Hammond, who has announced his retirement as FHSU president effective at the end of June. Now in his 28th year at the helm of the university, he will remain as a consultant and a member of the teaching faculty.

FHSU has more than doubled its enrollment over the past decade, rising above 13,500 in the fall 2013 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 3,347 graduates this year, which includes associate, bachelor and graduate-level degrees. Degrees will go to students who completed graduation requirements in summer 2013, fall 2013 and spring 2014. This year's total of 3,347 compares to 3,486 last year. That is a slight decline, but 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 less than two hours.

An added convenience at the ceremonies on May 16 and May 17 will be a Commencement application that is accessible on smart phones. The app is available for iPhone, Android and mobile Web access, but not for iPads. It is open to the public. No special access code is needed.

The link to download the mobile app, which launched this week, is http://fhsucommencement2014.quickmobile.mobi. The app is available on the App Store (iTunes). In the App Store, simply search for FHSU or 2014 FHSU Commencement (and a selection of other key words).

Those attending either of the two Commencements will be able to use the app to access several features:

  • Schedule will generate a list of sessions and events with detailed overviews;
  • What's On will allow for an instant viewing of listed events in progress and events commencing within the following two hours;
  • Attendees will list names, hometowns and degrees of the graduates;
  • City Guide will locate hotels, restaurants and attractions utilizing Google Maps;
  • Info Booth will have important information about the Commencement ceremony;
  • Documents will have a campus map, a digital copy of the program and the Commencement DVD order form;
  • Facebook will link to the FHSU Commencement Facebook page;
  • Twitter will link to a Twitter feed about Commencement; and
  • Photos will allow users to upload photos to the mobile app database.

In the case of something unexpected, such as an accident on U.S. 183 Bypass during the ceremony, the Commencement app will provide real-time information about how to avoid traffic problems.

Doors will open at GMC for graduate students and their guests at 5 p.m. Friday, May 16. Doors will open at GMC for undergraduates and their guests at 8 a.m. Saturday, May 17. 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. Robba Moran, a member of the Kansas Board of Regents and a former long-time Hays resident who now lives in Manhattan, 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. Chris Crawford, interim provost, also will make brief remarks during the ceremonies.

The Torch, Pilot and Navigator awards will be presented at the Graduate Faculty Lunch at 11:30 a.m. Friday, May 16, which is open to all members and guests of the Class of 2014. 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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