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Separate ceremonies split up May grads

Belmont’s spring graduation is May 14, a date that has been set for well over a year, but over winter break, students learned that there will be two ceremonies — one at 10 a.m. and the other at 2 p.m.

In the past, all of the undergraduate students have graduated in one ceremony while all of the graduate students have graduated in a separate ceremony. That is how Belmont has always done it, said Sarah Norton, a senior public relations major.

Traditionally, graduate students have had their ceremony on Friday night while undergraduate students have had theirs on Saturday morning.

This year, no matter if they are an undergraduate or a graduate student, everyone will be graduating solely based upon which college they are in. This decision has created tension among some seniors in the May 2011 graduating class.

“I was frustrated. I’d like to be there with my friends when we graduate,” said Norton, who is graduating in the 2 p.m. ceremony.

Norton is also an honors student, which adds to her frustration.

“I have spent all my time academically with them (honors students) and we won’t all get to graduate together,” she said.

Until December, Norton was under the impression graduating with all of her friends wouldn’t be an issue.

She found out about the split graduation during Christmas break while checking the online academic calendar. Norton, along with all other graduates, then received an e-mail on Jan. 10 from the Office of the Registrar with a layout of who will graduate at which ceremony as well as information about tickets. “I’m assuming they did it because of the number of students,” she said.

The two separate ceremonies are in fact a result of the rapid growing student population of the university.

“Due to the growth in degree candidates, it became prudent to look at viable options and this was the one decided upon,” executive assistant to the Provost, Deborah Hayden said.

“A special committee was formed by the Provost’s office to review options.  This was the committee’s recommendation and Senior Leadership approved,” she said. Other seniors, upon receiving the graduation e-mail, didn’t have the same reaction as Norton.

“I kind of figured it would happen,” Scott Cangemi, a senior entertainment industries studies major said.

Cangemi has friends who graduated in 2010 who commented on how crowded the ceremony was.

“As you grow as a school, there are going to have to be multiple graduations. I know that’s how they do it at the bigger state schools,” he said.

The university sees splitting the graduation as an essential part of making the May 2011 and future graduations successful.

“The Graduation Steering Committee believed it was important to have graduation on the Belmont campus and be able to host families here during this time of celebration.  This change also allows more family members to attend, as it is a ticketed event,” Hayden said.

According to the Belmont University website, students graduating in the 10 a.m. ceremony will be from the College of Business Administration, the Mike Curb College of Entertainment and Music Business, the College of Visual and Performing Arts, and the School of Religion.

The 2 p.m. ceremony will consist of graduating seniors from the College of Arts and Sciences, the Gordon E. Inman College of Health Sciences and Nursing, and the University College.

Both graduations will be held in the Curb Event Center and tickets are required for both ceremonies.

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