Administration reactivates official graduation policy, adds summer graduation

Newly Graduated People Wearing Black Academy Gowns Throwing Hats Up in the Air (Photo sourced from Pexels)
Newly Graduated People Wearing Black Academy Gowns Throwing Hats Up in the Air (Photo sourced from Pexels)

According to an email sent by Karon Powell, director of Records and Advisement, starting this year, there will be three graduation ceremonies.

The graduation dates and times for 2023 are as follows: May 7 at 9 a.m. and 1 p.m.; Aug. 17 at 7 p.m. and Dec. 14 at 7 p.m. For the May graduation, a third program would open at 4 p.m., only if needed.

  In the past, the university had a working policy that allowed students to march in the May commencement ceremony if they were within six credit hours of completing a degree and registered for those credits in the following summer semester, according to Powell. However, she explained, students tend not to complete their degree after marching. 

“Unfortunately, our experience is that far too many students who participated in the May commencement ceremony before completing all degree requirements failed to complete degree requirements and therefore did not complete a degree at Southern,” Powell wrote. “Many students appear to conflate participation in commencement exercises with degree completion.”

As a result, the commencement marching policy no longer allows students to march if they have not fulfilled all of their degree requirements. The only exceptions to this rule would be students dealing with extenuating circumstances (e.g., when a student has to return home to a different country and would be unable to return for the summer graduation ceremony). In addition, students in such situations can have only three outstanding credits and have plans to take them over the summer for this to be feasible. 

“Because there will now be an August commencement ceremony the university will begin carefully following its current graduation participation policy found in the Graduation Requirements section of the academic catalog, which states, ‘Students are allowed to participate in commencement exercises only if they have completed all the courses required for graduation,’” Powell wrote in an email to faculty.  “ … To be eligible to participate in a commencement ceremony (march) students need to have completed all hours or be registered for their final requirements within the semester in which they intend to march.”

Powell presented, as an example, a student with three credit hours outstanding by the May 2023 commencement ceremony. That student would be asked to march in the August ceremony because he or she would be enrolled for the final hours during the summer term. 

In an email to the Accent,  Vice President of Academic Administration Bob Young wrote that the summer date was implemented to benefit students who complete their degrees in the summer and do not wish to march in the December graduation ceremony. 

“There are a number of seniors who finish their programs in the summer, many of whom choose not to march at the December commencement service,” Young wrote. “Having a summer program will serve this population. There is also data that shows that of students who march before completion, a high percentage never finish their degrees. Having the summer program would help those students complete and still be able to participate in a commencement service.”

In addition, having a graduation ceremony for every term lowers the number of graduating seniors for each commencement and allows students to invite more people. According to Young, all three graduations will be held in the Iles P.E. Center.

2023 Graduation Dates
May 7, 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. (a third program would open at 4 p.m., only if needed)
Aug. 17, 7 p.m.
Dec. 14, 7 p.m.

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