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Staton promises an unforgettable commencement during press conference

Photo Illustration by Kayla Stroud/THE SPECTATOR

Written by Tatyana Phelps, Managing Editor

Staton promises an unforgettable commencement

A press conference was held in Interim President Dr. Cecil Staton’s office Thursday morning regarding recent changes to the Spring 2016 graduation on May 7.

After much speculation on campus after the new graduation ceremony schedule was posted nearly two weeks ago, Dr. Staton set the record straight.

There will be a two-step process for students on graduation day. The first step will consist of a convocation ceremony in which students within their respective colleges will be recognized by their dean for any honors and outstanding things they have done. According to Dr. Staton, this will be a more intimate experience for graduates.

The second step is a university-wide commencement ceremony at 8 p.m.

As of now, the commencement ceremony will take place at the Bazemore-Hyder Stadium. The ceremony will consist of a guest speaker, the receiving of diplomas, an orchestra, and a fireworks display. The name of the guest speaker has not been announced yet; however, the guest speaker Dr. Staton has reached out to is a VSU alum.

“I’ve had the opportunity to attend a lot of commencement ceremonies. I think VSU deserves something different and special,” Dr. Staton said. “Our (old) commencement was not what our students deserved. We tried to come up with something that would be unique for our students, and we are very excited.”

There are currently more than 1,000 students who are expected to graduate on May 7. However, Dr. Staton anticipates that the ceremony will not last longer than two to two and a half hours.

Dr. Staton says that the new graduation plan will be enjoyable for both students and families.

Although the first convocation ceremony is at 10 a.m., Dr. Staton says there will be different things and events to do on campus while students and families wait for the commencement ceremony later that evening. There will even be shuttle buses available to take guests across campus.

A petition was started online in opposition to the new graduation schedule, which currently has 1,413 supporters from across the nation. According to Dr. Staton, the online petition that was started after the release of the new schedule is based on misinformation.

“We are going to listen and respond to any legitimate concerns, but I cannot respond to any misinformation,” Dr. Staton said. “I can’t make a decision on the bases on any one individual student.”

Dr. Staton, along with the Office of Event Services, has based these changes off of concerns and complaints they’ve received in the past from parents and graduates.

Although the commencement ceremony will be done differently than it has in the past at VSU, Dr. Staton believes that this is the right thing to do for the university.

“I think students will leave the ceremony surprised and impressed by what their university has done.
“I want our graduates to have the best commencement experience possible,” Dr. Staton said. “I want them to have an experience which is unlike no other, and certainly one that is better than our peer institutions. I think at the end of the day, on May 7th, people are going to be very excited and it will be an appropriate send-off for our students on their final day as students on the campus of Valdosta State University.”

More information regarding the commencement ceremony will be released once logistics have been worked out within the next few days and throughout the rest of the semester as graduation approaches.

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