Graduates, along with their families and friends, nearly fill spacious Gross Memorial Coliseum each spring for Fort Hays State University's annual Commencement, and the university is finalizing plans to make this year's event convenient and successful.
Fort Hays State will award about 1,300 degrees during Commencement, which begins at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 15, in Gross Memorial Coliseum on the south edge of the campus. The degrees will go to students who completed graduation requirements in summer 2003, fall 2003 and spring 2004.
Kansas Board of Regents member Donna Shank of Liberal will present a short address at Commencement, and Brenda Meder, director of the Hays Arts Council, will announce the names of the graduates as they receive their degrees. Dr. Edward H. Hammond, FHSU president, and Dr. Larry Gould, FHSU provost, also will make brief remarks during the ceremony.
The Torch, Pilot and Navigator awards will be presented at the Graduate Faculty Brunch at 11:30 a.m. Friday, May 14, and the recipients will be seated on the platform and recognized during the Commencement ceremonies on Saturday morning.
Commencement is free and open to families of graduates and to all friends of the university. No tickets are required. However, seating in the Coliseum quickly reaches capacity, so FHSU is offering several other options for viewing Commencement.
The entire ceremony will be broadcast live to Beach/Schmidt Performing Arts Center in Sheridan Hall. With its air conditioning, easy access and comfortable seating, the performing arts center may be the preferred choice as a viewing site for many people.
Special seating is available in both Gross and Beach/Schmidt for people with disabilities. The signer who will interpret for the hearing-impaired in Gross will also be easily seen in an inset on the large screen at Beach/Schmidt. The ceremony will be broadcast live by KMA Productions Inc. of Hays over cable channel 13.
The university will make Commencement available both live and for delayed viewing over the Internet so that family and friends can watch the ceremony from distant locations. Those wishing to view the ceremony on a computer should download either QuickTime or Real Player prior to May 15. For a high-quality broadcast, a minimum of a Pentium 166 with 16 MB RAM or a comparable Macintosh is recommended. The address for the online broadcast is www.fhsu.edu/commencement/.
Those people who plan to attend the ceremony in person are encouraged to arrive early. Gates at the Cunningham/Gross Coliseum complex and at Beach/Schmidt Performing Arts Center will open at 8:30 a.m. Graduates should gather in Cunningham Hall by 9:15 a.m.; all others are asked to enter the Coliseum through Gates 1, 2, 3 or 4.
Traffic in the Gross Memorial Coliseum area is extremely heavy for Commencement. Parking lots adjacent to the Coliseum typically fill up by 9:15 a.m., so those arriving after that time are encouraged to park on the main campus. In the event of rain, unpaved lots near the Coliseum will be closed and it will be necessary to park on the main campus. Shuttle bus service will be provided between the campus and the Coliseum complex. The shuttle buses will stop at the parking lot west of the Memorial Union, in front of Malloy Hall, at the residence hall parking lot next to Weist Hall and wherever the drivers see groups of people walking toward the Coliseum.
Graduates and faculty will be seated on the main floor of the Coliseum. Relatives and friends of the degree candidates will be seated in the bleachers and the balcony. Seating arrangements for the disabled have been made in the bleacher areas on either side in front of the stage. One person may accompany an individual requiring seating in these areas. Drivers will find Gates 2 and 3, at the northwest and southwest corners, most convenient for dropping off passengers with disabilities.
In the past, heavy rains sometimes caused traffic problems during Commencement by blocking the low-water bridge over Big Creek on Gustad Drive, but a higher bridge has been built and only torrential rains would be likely to close Gustad Drive. However, those who plan to attend Commencement in Gross Memorial Coliseum should listen to Hays radio stations for announcements if the bridge is closed. Rain will not hamper direct access to the Beach/Schmidt Performing Arts Center on the main campus.
While Commencement is a time of celebration, Fort Hays State University asks those who attend to show decorum appropriate to the occasion. Air horns and other noisemakers are not allowed in the Coliseum. Please do not applaud individual graduates because loud demonstrations drown out the names of following graduates. An appropriate time for applause will be announced. The audience is also asked to refrain from moving around and graduates should remain for the entire ceremony.
Note to Editors/News Directors: If you intend to send a photographer -- either still camera or video camera -- to Commencement, please contact the Office of University Relations for a photo pass. Only photographers with an official pass can be sure of freedom of movement at the ceremony.