Plans for two separate Commencements in May being made to award graduate and undergraduate degrees

In a break with tradition, Fort Hays State University will conduct two separate graduation ceremonies at the end of the current school year. University officials are announcing the change now so that graduates and their families may plan ahead.

The FHSU Graduate School will conduct Commencement at 7 p.m. Friday, May 13, in the Beach/Schmidt Performing Arts Center in Sheridan Hall. Doors will open at 6 p.m., and a reception will follow in the Dreiling Lobby, which is located at the front of Sheridan Hall.

Commencement for undergraduates will follow the next morning. That ceremony, as in previous years, will take place from 10 a.m. to noon in Gross Memorial Coliseum.

"With our tremendous growth in enrollment and the corresponding increase in the number of graduates, the move to separate Commencements was inevitable," said Dr. Tim Crowley, dean of the FHSU Graduate School. "This change will do more than relieve overcrowding at Gross Memorial Coliseum. It will provide the opportunity to create a ceremony specifically designed to honor students who are receiving advanced degrees."

Dr. Joey Linn, registrar and associate vice president of Student Affairs, concurred with Crowley. "It has been increasingly difficult the past few years to accommodate the number of people who attended the FHSU Commencements," he said. "We had concerns about their comfort and also did not want to reach a point of having to worry about safety. By dividing the two groups, both Commencements will be less congested and more enjoyable for the graduates and their families." FHSU is the fastest growing university in the Kansas Board of Regents System. Enrollment has more than doubled over the past decade, from about 5,800 at the turn of the century to just over 12,000 last semester. Over the past five years, the number of graduates has increased by an amazing 84 percent, to nearly 2,500 for the single Commencement ceremony in May 2010.

Last year, for the first time, a separate "hooding ceremony" for graduate students was conducted early Saturday before the regular Commencement ceremony. The tradition of hooding graduate students dates back to the 12th or 13th century when universities were forming and today represents a high academic honor marking one's entrance into a distinguished group of scholars who make up less than 10 percent of the population of the state of Kansas. The graduate students then received their diplomas at the regular Commencement.

Based on the success of that trial ceremony, the decision has been made to separate the two events completely. This May, graduate students will receive their diplomas on Friday evening and will not participate in the Saturday morning commencement ceremony at Gross Memorial Coliseum.

For more information, please visit the Registrar's Office website at and hit the Commencement button.

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