Black, Williams to speak at commencements

Soon, more than 1,000 seniors will say goodbye to Tech.This spring, there will be two separate commencements. Tech’s spring commencements are generally larger than fall commencement.

“In the Spring of 2006,” said Debbie Combs, special projects coordinator, “we first exceeded the 1,000 mark for graduates in a semester.

“Our largest class was Spring 2009, when we graduated 1,211 seniors. At this time, indications are that the Spring 2011 graduating class will be of a similar size to recent spring classes.”

Graduating seniors bring an average of about eight guests. Per fire marshall guidelines, which determine how wide aisles must be, how closely chairs can be positioned etc., the Hooper Eblen Center can have 768 graduates seated on the floor and 9,692 guests in the stands and skybox.

The speaker for the morning ceremony is Rep. Diane Black. State Rep. Ryan Williams will speak at the 2 p.m. ceremony.

The morning ceremony will include undergraduates from the school of interdisciplinary studies, the colleges of agricultural and human sciences, arts and sciences and engineering. The graduate students of each of these colleges will also be included.

The afternoon ceremony will include undergraduates and graduates from the colleges of Business and Education.

“Last year’s spring graduation was excessively long-almost unbearable,” said Candice Griggs, graduating journalism major.

“I’m glad the campus recognized the problem and has implemented two ceremonies for this spring. Shorter ceremonies will encourage more students to participant in the commencement and create more time for graduating students, including myself, to celebrate with their families.”

The division of colleges was based on past graduation numbers to help ensure that the two ceremonies are of comparable size. Combs said this organizing is sometimes difficult.

“Planning two ceremonies,” she said, “is certainly more time consuming than planning one-not quite twice as time consuming, but close.”

The individuals seated on the platform and the faculty participating will be different for each of the ceremonies.

The two speakers will give unique speeches for the separate events.

More than 500 students are expected to participate in each ceremony. There will be online live streaming, and the link will be posted on Tech’s website.

“We will continue to monitor the size of the graduating classes,” Combs said, “and based on that information, we will determine whether it is necessary to continue splitting spring commencement ceremonies.