The location was changed when the coliseum closed to events.
“The number of students at Auburn has increased, retention has increased, and the graduation rate has increased so the number of graduates has increased,” said Dale Coleman, faculty co-chair of graduation. “When they closed the coliseum and opened the arena, the floor seating remained the same, but we lost about one third of the audience seating.”
Coleman said the SGA suggested the stadium as the location for last year’s graduation, but the graduation committee vetoed the idea this year because of the extreme heat.
“The feedback we’ve gotten over the past several years from the students is that they would like one big ceremony, where everyone’s there and they can be with their friends to celebrate the day,” he said. “When that didn’t work, and we couldn’t do that in the stadium because the weather didn’t cooperate, we had to move to the next largest space: the arena.”
The ceremony May 6 at 1 p.m. will include graduates from the College of Agriculture, the College of Architecture Design and Construction and the College of Human Sciences. The ceremony at 5 p.m. will consist of graduates from the College of Business.
The ceremony May 7 at 10 a.m. will include graduates from Engineering, Forestry and Wildlife Sciences, the School of Nursing and the College of Science and Mathematics. The ceremony at 2 p.m. will be only graduates from the College of Liberal Arts.
“For this semester, we actually have four speakers–one per ceremony,” said Teresa Whitman-McCall, director of campus and community events. “Quite a few of our alumni wanted to come back to Auburn, and one who was not an alum who wants to come.”
The speakers on May 6 will be Ronnie Baynes, coordinator of recruiting and officiating development with the National Football League, at 1 p.m. and Arthur Blank, owner of the Atlanta Falcons and co-founder of The Home Depot, at 5 p.m.
The speakers on May 7 will be Kirby Bland, surgeon-in-chief at UAB hospitals and clinics, at 10 a.m. and Javier Goizueta, vice president of The Coca-Cola Company, at 2 p.m.
“Each person directly speaks with the students that are graduating,” Whitman-McCall said. “For instance, Mr. Baynes is an education graduate so we put him with that. Arthur Blank is a predominant business person, he’s actually internationally known for his career – and then Kirby Bland. He’s a medical doctor who graduated from the College of Sciences and Mathematics. Javier Goizueta is a graduate in the College of Liberal Arts.”
Whitman-McCall said the ceremonies include the most important aspects of graduation, as determined by a survey sent out to graduates and their parents.
“One tradition that we’ve had historically is the reading of the graduate’s name,” she said. “Every student has the opportunity to walk on stage, have their name called out, shake their dean’s hand and president (Jay) Gouge’s hand. We don’t want to take that away at all so, historically, if we do have a lot of graduates, it takes a little longer.”
Johnson Hardy, senior in biomedical sciences, said he prefers this year’s format for graduation.
“I assume that in the stadium last year, all colleges graduated at once and it was very, very, very long from what I heard,” Hardy said. “I knew people who took iPods just so they could sit and listen to their music during the graduation. I think it being much smaller, much more intimate and much quicker–I’d rather graduate with a bunch of people I know than a bunch of people I don’t.”
This year’s graduation ceremonies should last around an hour and a half.
“We hope this is a great day for them and for their families,” Whitman-McCall said. “We try to do the best we can to make the day memorable for them.”