After experimenting last year with a special hooding ceremony for graduate students, Fort Hays State University will have a completely separate Commencement this year for students who are receiving advanced degrees. This year marks the first graduating class for the Kansas Academy of Mathematics and Science, which is hosted at FHSU, so KAMS will also have a separate Commencement. For the first time, Commencement at FHSU will consist of three stand-alone ceremonies.
FHSU has more than doubled its enrollment over the past decade, so there has been a corresponding explosion in graduates. Although the numbers may change slightly when the degree-checking process concludes, the Registrar's Office projects there will be 2,661 graduates this year -- another all-time record -- which includes associate, bachelor and graduate-level degrees. The degrees will go to students who completed graduation requirements in summer 2010, fall 2010 and spring 2011. That compares to 2,459 graduates last year, 2,385 graduates in 2009, 2,041 graduates in 2008, 2,176 graduates in 2007, 2,250 graduates in 2006, 1,374 graduates in 2005 and 1,310 graduates in 2004.
The decision to hold an entirely separate Commencement for graduate students on Friday night will help to avoid overcrowding at the traditional Saturday morning Commencement, and it will help to keep the traditional ceremony comfortably under two hours in duration.
The first of this year's Commencements, for the KAMS graduating class, will begin at 3 p.m. this Saturday, May 7, in the Eagle Communications Hall at the Robbins Center on the FHSU campus. A reception will follow immediately.
The second Commencement, for graduate students and their guests, begins 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. Last year, for the first time, a separate hooding ceremony for graduate students was conducted early Saturday before the regular Commencement ceremony, and based on the success of that trial ceremony, the decision was 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 at Gross Memorial Coliseum. Parking for the Friday night Commencement will be available in the parking lots across Park Street from Sheridan Hall and along adjacent streets.
Commencement for undergraduates and their guests will begin at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 14, in GMC, which is located adjacent to the bypass on the south edge of the FHSU campus. Doors will open at 8 a.m., and everyone is encouraged to arrive early.
Commencement is free and open to families of graduates and to all friends of the university. No tickets are required. Kansas Regent Mildred Edwards of Wichita 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 13, open to all members and guests of the Class of 2011, and the recipients will be seated on the platform and recognized during Commencement on Saturday morning.
Because seating in GMC quickly reaches capacity, FHSU offers several other options for viewing Commencement. The entire Saturday morning 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 GMC and Beach/Schmidt for people with disabilities. Rebecca Luedders will interpret for the hearing-impaired in GMC, and she will be easily visible in an inset on the large screen at Beach/Schmidt.
Both the Friday night Commencement and the Saturday morning Commencement will be broadcast live by the FHSU student TV station, KFHS; on Eagle Communication cable channels in Hays, Ellis, Russell and WaKeeney; and to dozens of other communities in western and north central Kansas on the Nex-Tech cable system. In addition, 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 Windows Media Player. The address for the online broadcast is http://www.fhsu.edu/commencement.
To order a DVD of Commencement, send a check payable to FHSU in the amount of $17 for a DVD to Fort Hays State University, Attn: Eva Gould, 600 Park St., Hays, KS 67601. Please include your full mailing address. For further information, call (785) 628-5964.
Gates at the Cunningham Hall/GMC complex will open at 8 a.m. on Saturday. Graduates should park on the main campus and gather in Cunningham Hall by 9:15 a.m.; all others are asked to enter GMC through Gates 1, 2, 3 or 4. Traffic in the GMC area is extremely heavy for Commencement. Parking lots adjacent to GMC typically fill up by 9 a.m., so those arriving after that time are encouraged to park on the main campus. In the event of rain, unpaved lots near GMC will be closed and it will be necessary to park on the main campus.
Shuttle bus service will be provided on Saturday between the campus and GMC. The shuttle buses will stop in parking lots and wherever drivers see groups of people walking toward GMC.
Graduates and faculty will be seated on the main floor of GMC. Relatives and friends of the graduates will be seated in the bleachers and the balcony. Seating for the disabled will be available 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. This area fills quickly so either plan to arrive early or attend Commencement at Beach/Schmidt Performing Arts Center.
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 GMC. Please do not applaud individual graduates because loud demonstrations are discourteous, drowning out the names of the graduates who follow. 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.