Officials consider ways to improve graduation ceremony

By Emily Gurchiek, Chattanooga, TN—University officials are still trying to decide how to shorten ever-longer graduation ceremonies while still holding the

Contributed photo by Jaimie Davis
Graduation ceremony: Graduates of fall 2012 sit and wait for their names to be called. Students received diplomas in the McKenzie Arena.

same tradition of honoring the graduates.

Many have raised concerns that graduation ceremonies past have been very long. Nashville senior Brittain Ayres said that at the spring 2012 graduation, the length of the ceremony caused many families and even graduates to get up and leave early.

However, Linda Orth, University registrar, said officials are considering different options that will “streamline the flow,” but nothing has been finalized for future graduation ceremonies. She said there are different ways other institutions conduct the ceremony.

Orth said having more than one ceremony is an option, and one way that could happen would be to honor students by having separate graduations for each specific colleges.

John Ballard grew up in Chattanooga and received his second bachelor’s degree from UTC last year in mechanical engineering after graduating first from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville.  He said he enjoyed UTC’s ceremony, but he said he thought it was a little disorganized in the moments leading up to the procession.

Ballard said compared to UTK’s graduation, UTC’s ceremony did not seem too long. But, he said he was disappointed when he found out engineering majors did not get their own ceremony.

Ballard said he did not think there was much the University could do about the length of the ceremony without eliminating any and all speakers.

Because the main speaker was his favorite part about the whole ceremony, he said he did not think this was a good idea.

Ballard said, “The only thing that could be changed is if they hold smaller ceremonies for the professional degrees.  I know that sounds arrogant, but [at] the graduate/masters level, medical and engineering students commit a vast amount of time into their degrees.”

Orth and Ballard agree that the graduation ceremony is a special event to celebrate the accomplishments of students.

Ballard said other than not separating the ceremony into smaller groups, the ceremony at UTC was great the way it was.  He said, “It’s the culmination of every student’s college career and it’s the last chance (for most) to be part of the University.”

As the University grows, the number of graduates will grow as well, so the length of the ceremony will keep getting longer.

However, Orth said, “Outgrowing our present facility for one commencement is certainly a good problem to have, but I would call it more of a challenge though than a problem.  We’re very proud to have more graduates of UTC.”

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