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Two Ceremonies Planned for Spring Commencement at SUNY Plattsburgh

PLATTSBURGH, NY __ There will be several changes in store for students graduating on Saturday, May 14 at the State University of New York College at Plattsburgh that include two commencement ceremonies that day.

Based upon the recommendation of a committee reviewing numerous issues and concerns with past commencement ceremonies, President John Ettling and his cabinet have approved holding two ceremonies at the Field House Gymnasium. The first ceremony would begin at 10 a.m. and the other to follow at 2 p.m.

Numerous requests for additional tickets, scalping and seating capacity at previous commencements were some of the major issues the committee addressed. 

Keith Tyo, executive assistant to the president and chair of the committee, said there were many other issues considered as well.

"We've heard comments from students, faculty, parents and alumni that the ceremonies were not student-centered; that the graduations have been too long; and, particularly, that we always have insufficient seating for family members," said Tyo.  "President Ettling asked the committee to address all issues and consider the ceremony as the culmination of a student's college career. From that standpoint, we recommended several changes in the ceremony."

The first ceremony would begin at 10 a.m. and would be held for students majoring in programs within the Division of Education, Health and Human Services and the School of Business and Economics.  The second ceremony would commence at 2 p.m. for students in the Division of Arts and Science.

To make it more student-oriented, faculty awards will be moved to the fall President's Opening Day Meeting in late August while those graduating students who have received SUNY awards would be recognized. The number of speeches and the length of those addresses will also be limited.

While students will still be required to pickup tickets the week before commencement, the number of seats will no longer be limited to just four per student.

There are several other logistical changes in the ceremony that are still being examined.

One other variation in the ceremony that will be quite noticeable concerns the academic gowns for undergraduate students.  Based upon the recommendation of the Student Association President Michael Cashman, graduating seniors will now be dressed in black robes and mortarboards. A red tassel will adorn the mortarboard.

Winter commencement will continue to be one ceremony although there will be some changes in the program. Information on changes to the spring ceremonies will be available on the campus Website beginning next week.

President Ettling said that the two ceremonies this spring are being conducted on a trial basis.

"We will gauge the reaction and comments to the spring ceremonies from students, faculty, staff and parents and decide whether to continue the new format," said Ettling.

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