President Bob Kustra sent the following letter regarding commencement to graduating students:
We have heard concerns regarding graduation this spring at Taco Bell Arena and understand them. Although spring commencement will not be held at Albertsons Stadium this May, we are working to assure that there are enough tickets for families at graduation through a redistribution system. We will be gathering details from graduates on their ticket needs in the coming weeks, as we know some graduates will want more than five tickets and some will want fewer. If we determine that we cannot accommodate graduates and their families in one ceremony, then we can consider holding two ceremonies, one in the morning and one in the afternoon in the arena.
A very rosy picture has been painted about last year’s graduation at Albertsons Stadium, but the possibility of rain, wind and lightning threatened to cancel the entire celebration. And with cancellation, as it works at any university with outdoor graduations, graduates simply report to a location to pick up their diplomas without the pomp and circumstance of a graduation ceremony, which is our number one priority for parents, families and graduates alike.
We also had complaints from attendees about how cold the aluminum stadium seats were, and many left early to watch the ceremony in the warmth of the Student Union. With commencement even earlier this year, concern about weather conditions is heightened.
Last year’s graduation experiment was also very expensive. When the bills came in for renting the stage, sound system and flooring to protect the stadium turf, the bill was a quarter of a million dollars. Given our highest priority of having a graduation ceremony regardless of the weather outside — plus the funding challenges of an outdoor graduation — it is simply too risky and too expensive to do again this spring, especially when we have held wonderful graduations at Taco Bell Arena for many years without any concerns about cancelling an entire graduation ceremony.
Please bear with us as we figure this out in the next few weeks. I assure you this year, as I was not able to do with last year’s outdoor graduation, that there will be a graduation ceremony and we will figure out a way to accommodate families in the process.
President Bob Kustra