Written by Brian Hickey
This Fall VSU administration made the decision to combine graduate and undergraduate commencement ceremonies.
This means that students earning Bachelors, Masters, Doctorates and Education Specialist’s will now walk across the same stage at the same time. Summer ceremonies are also discontinued.
Another change is that only Doctoral degree candidates will be hooded during commencement and only one advisor will allowed to hood the student. Master’s and Educational Specialist may be hooded prior to commencement if their department would like to have their own ceremony.
Students who dislike the recent changes and belief that i have wasted no time showing this distaste as graduate students took to twitter tweeting under the hashtag #VSUhatesgradstudents and others voiced their opinions elsewhere.
“I hate it,” said Ashley Green, a graduate in the Masters of Public Administration Program. “Grad school is a completely different arena so we should have completely different commencement. The level of work is different, the hours spent doing outside research is different and I feel our accomplishments should be honored in a more private setting that highlights what we do.”
Some students have also voiced that they did not have an active voice in the changes made to commencement but can understand the changes.
“In my field, especially working in higher education, I’m all for changes,” said Justin Smith, graduate student, higher education. “As an institution grows, I do agree with some things that should be changed. I also agree that there should be a collective input in those changes, and I’m not sure if Commencement was something students were really notified about, and their voice were heard about.”
According to President McKinney, in the several hours brainstorming session that took place over the summer there were students, faculty, and administration were in attendance.
However, unbeknownst to most students, the recent changes to commencement were actually in place at VSU up until 2010 where they were changed to allow separate ceremonies for undergraduate and graduate students. McKinney who presided over the changes expressed his feelings for the change.
“The main reason for the change,” said McKinney “I believe it is important for a demonstration of the academic unity of our campus, overall academic unity of our campus and have those ceremonies be combined.”
McKinney also added “In my ideal word if we had the facility to do it, we’d have one large commencement ceremony.”
McKinney also addressed the interrelatedness between degrees and why he felt it important to combine ceremonies.
“The graduate programs happen in the same academic departments as the undergraduate programs,” said McKinney. “So seeing that continuity that you can have from a bachelor’s, to a master’s, to a doctorate’s degree, I think is very important. Those individuals who are graduating with graduate degrees are in some ways role models for what you can do after you get that bachelor’s degree.”
As far as the changes to commencement affecting the enrollment into graduate school, McKinney did not see the correlation.
“I honestly don’t see it having any impact on graduation enrollment positively or negatively.” said Mckinney.