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VSU lacks famous commencement speakers

As Valdosta State University’s spring graduation ceremonies approach, it will continue to uphold its tradition of using set commencement speakers.

Speakers for the graduate and undergraduate ceremonies include President Schloss, the Faculty Senate Representative, the Vice President of Academic Affairs, Five Deans of Colleges, an SGA representative and an Alumni Association Representative.

The University’s communications department attributes the current commencement format to the sheer number of students graduating. Roughly 1,300 students are eligible for graduation this spring, and VSU wants there to be enough time for every graduate’s name to be called.

“At many institutions the graduates rise when their college or degree is called, but they do not actually walk on stage to receive their diploma,” said Theresa Boyd, assistant to the president for Communications.

“The students work very hard for their degrees and the day is for them to celebrate with their family and friends.”

While VSU omits guest speakers to expedite the school’s commencement ceremonies, other universities, of comparable size, still manage to include invited guests and announce every graduate’s name.

Rob Douthit, director of Media Relations for the University of West Georgia, said that the combination of guest speakers and graduate roll calls have been a tradition that the school has managed to uphold.

“We think it’s a great opportunity for our students to hear a nice, inspirational message” Douthit said. “[The use of guest speakers] is also a great opportunity to publicize our school.”

Douthit does concede that the commencement process could be more efficient without a guest speaker or calling out every graduate’s name, but he feels that the combination of the two maximizes the fulfillment of commencement day for both parents and students.

Many VSU students simply want to graduate, and are indifferent about invited guests at commencement.

“It doesn’t matter at all,” Clint Bowen, senior history major, said. “No one really listens to the speakers. Guest speakers are really just a formality.”

Other VSU students are completely against the idea of inviting a celebrity to commencement.

“I actually prefer not to have one,” Steve McCall, senior history major, said.

Not all prospective VSU graduates are indifferent to the idea of having invited addressors at commencement.

Javan Van Dyke, freshman computer information systems major and Valdosta Technical College alumnus, thinks that special commencement speakers offer vital motivation to new graduates.

“If it’s an alumnus, it’s great for them to come out and show the graduates what they’ve done after graduating,” Van Dyke said.
This spring’s commencement ceremonies will be held on May 6 and 7. The graduate ceremony will begin at 6 p.m on May 6th.

The three undergraduate ceremonies will held at 10 a.m., 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. on May 7.

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