HAYS, KS -- Just as enrollment has skyrocketed at Fort Hays State University in recent years -- from 5,626 in fall 2001 to 8,957 in fall 2004 -- so, too, the number of graduates taking part in Commencement continues to climb.
Graduates, their families and members of the community nearly fill spacious Gross Memorial Coliseum each spring for FHSU's annual Commencement. The university will award nearly 1,400 degrees at this year's ceremony, which begins at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 14, in the Coliseum on the south edge of the campus.
The tentative total as of this week was 1,374 graduates, which includes associate, bachelor and master-level degrees. That compares to 1,310 graduates in 2004, 1,168 graduates in 2003 and 1,126 graduates in 2002. The degrees this year will go to students who completed graduation requirements in summer 2004, fall 2004 and spring 2005.
Kansas Board of Regents member Nelson D. Galle of Manhattan 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, 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 visible in an inset on the large screen at Beach/Schmidt. The ceremony also will be broadcast live by KMA Productions Inc. of Hays over cable channel 13.
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 either QuickTime or Windows Media Player prior to May 14. 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/.
To order a recording of Commencement, send a check payable to the university in the amount of $10.50 for a VHS tape or $11.50 for a DVD to Fort Hays State University, Attn: Eva Gould, 600 Park St., Hays, KS 67601. Be sure to include your full mailing address. For further information, call (785) 628-4194.
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 park on the main campus and 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 Wiest 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. This area fills quickly so either plan to arrive early or attend Commencement at Beach/Schmidt.
In the past, heavy rains sometimes caused traffic problems during Commencement. Those who plan to attend Commencement in Gross Memorial Coliseum should listen to Hays radio stations to learn whether the parking lots have filled or -- in extreme weather conditions -- whether the low-water bridge over Big Creek on Gustad Drive has been closed, blocking traffic access from the main campus. 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 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.
Note to Editors/News Directors: Only photographers who represent news media will be allowed freedom of movement at the ceremony. If you intend to send a photographer
-- either still camera or video camera -- to Commencement, please be sure that person can identify himself or herself as a representative of your organization.