University Announces New Commencement Features

Winter Commencement; December 17, 2016With spring commencement just over five weeks from now, Southeast has announced several changes to this year’s ceremonies.

The largest change will be a move to two commencement ceremonies – both a morning and afternoon event, both in the Show Me Center – shifting away from one large event. Candidates in the College of Liberal Arts and the College of Health and Human Services will participate in a ceremony at 10 a.m. May 13 with Louise Bodenheimer, professor of art, presenting the commencement address. Candidates in the College of Business, College of Education and College of Science, Technology and Agriculture will take part in a 2 p.m. May 13 ceremony, with Dr. Julie Ray, chair of the Department of Elementary, Early and Special Education, serving as the commencement speaker.

The shift to two ceremonies comes amid growing concerns of overcrowding of both candidates for graduation and their guests, creating safety concerns, including the speed at which the building could be evacuated in the event of an emergency, such as a fire. Also, over the years as enrollment and the number of candidates has grown, rows of chairs had been moved closer together to accommodate more students, making the rows difficult to navigate when candidates are called to the stage.

2016 Winter Graduation

Dr. Willie Redmond presents the address at Winter 2016 commencement.

Southeast officials say the move to a morning and afternoon ceremony also addresses student feedback that indicated a desire for a smaller, shorter and more personally meaningful ceremony. To that end, beginning in May, Southeast President Carlos Vargas will hand each student a scroll and congratulate them as they cross the stage. Students previously received their scroll after stepping down from the stage. The May ceremony also will continue a practice recently adopted in which faculty conduct and speak at the ceremonies at which the students in their college are graduating.

Beginning in May, Southeast now has the opportunity to encourage students to invite up to eight guests to celebrate with them and watch them graduate live. With the previous single ceremony, students were limited to inviting four guests, with overflow guests watching on monitors on the concourses and in the meeting rooms. The shift to two ceremonies also addresses feedback from students who cited the length of the ceremony as their reason for not attending. The University has listened and has eliminated several elements to keep the ceremony to a minimum.

Additionally, with the move to two commencement ceremonies and the time involved with both, there was a need to shift the recognition of Presidential Ambassadors, 4.0 graduates and Honors Scholars to a new time. Therefore, Southeast President Carlos Vargas will congratulate Presidential Ambassadors, 4.0 graduates and Honors Scholars at a recognition ceremony from noon to 1 p.m. May 13, between the morning and afternoon commencement ceremonies. This recognition ceremony replaces the breakfast for honors scholars and lunch for 4.0 graduates and Presidential Ambassadors which were previously held.  An invitation will be sent to each of these groups closer to the event date providing information pertinent to location, guests, and any additional logistical items related to the ceremony.

The additional ceremony also necessitated changes in the Honors Convocation which was previously held on commencement day morning. Southeast officials are highly cognizant of the need to recognize these academic achievements in a meaningful way. In December, the University began displaying candidates’ names on the center-hung scoreboard as they crossed the stage.  Beginning this semester, students who have earned Latin Honors, Academic Distinction in the Department of the Major or completed the Jane Stephens Honors Program, will have that information displayed below their name on the scoreboard, as well as printed in the program. This permits a larger audience to be made aware of students’ accomplishments than could be done at the ceremony previously held, and so replaces that ceremony.

Finally, a brief reception for candidates and their guests will continue to be held after both the morning and afternoon commencement ceremonies in the Student Recreation Center.

For more information about commencement, a Frequently Asked Questions section is available at semo.edu/commencement/faq. Questions also may be directed to Julie Grueneberg, assistant registrar, at 651-2051 or graduation@semo.edu.