Commencement calm compared to last year

By Anthony D. Ávila
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday, December 7, 2005

Graduation ceremony undergoes only 'tweaking'

This month's commencement ceremony will have few changes compared to last year, which was marked by a heated battle to keep the December ceremony from being canceled, officials said.

Planning has gone much more smoothly this year, unlike last year's roller coaster ride that left organizers scrambling at the last minute to get information about the event out to the public, said Alexis Hernandez, associate dean of students and chairman of the commencement operations team.

"We really hate to throw major changes at commencement," Hernandez said.

The committee in charge of changes to commencement hasn't met since October because there has been nothing on the agenda except "minor tweaking," said Kathy Hawkes-Smith, a member of the Commencement Operations Team.

"Commencement is an evolving ceremony," she said. "Part of what we're trying to do is look at what others do and make minor changes to keep a good flow of the program and keep it moving and interesting."

Every year there are usually one or two additions to the ceremony to make it run more smoothly or to make it more interesting, she said.

This year, members of the Arizona Board of Regents will wear custom-made robes for the first time at the commencement ceremony, Hawkes-Smith said.

The Office of University Advancement purchased 18 of the $480 red and blue robes for the regents, a move that will save money when compared to the year-to-year cost of renting the robes, she said.

The ceremony will begin Dec. 17 at 9:30 a.m. when the first graduate steps into McKale Center, Hawkes-Smith said.

UA alumnus David Dewhurst, the lieutenant governor of Texas, is the scheduled guest speaker.

Up to 10,000 people could attend the ceremony, which will have security and police similar to that of a basketball game, Hernandez said.

"Everyone's very excited, students are looking forward to it," Hernandez said.

Luke Kollasch, a secondary education senior, said he plans to walk at the university-wide ceremony and looks forward to acknowledging fellow students in other colleges.

Though he's glad to be done, Kollasch said graduating early is double-sided.

"It's kinda bittersweet," he said. "But I definitely haven't been putting it off."

As for future plans, Kollasch said in the spring he will begin teaching government at a charter school in South Tucson for at-risk youth, and in the summer he hopes to travel to Africa or India to

participate in HIV and AIDS education.

Andre Mazire, a communication senior, said he's ready to get out of Tucson and head to San Diego, where he'll work doing financial consulting with either Ernst and Young or another company.

Though he's excited to leave, Mazire admitted there are things he will miss.

"I'm going to miss the college atmosphere, only going to class three hours a day," Mazire said. "The relaxing and partying, and of course, I'll miss Dirtbag's."