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University to Convert Spring Commencement to Two-Day Ceremony

Posted 12/01/2011
Posted by David Isgur

Beginning in May 2012, Commencement at the University of Hartford will be a two-day event honoring graduate students one day and undergraduates the next. In messages sent to faculty and staff, graduate students, seniors and Hillyer sophomores this week University Provost Sharon L. Vasquez announced that the ceremony for awarding graduate degrees is scheduled for Saturday, May 19, 2012, at 10:30 a.m. and the ceremony for awarding undergraduate degrees will be held on Sunday, May 20, 2012, at 10:30 a.m.  

Also new in May 2012, Commencement will be held on the University quad under a larger tent that will cover the stage, faculty, students, and guests, approximately 3,000 people in all. The larger tent will allow the Saturday and Sunday ceremonies to be held at the main site, rain or shine.

“In the event of inclement weather, which we certainly experienced last year, this new schedule and format will allow the University to ensure the comfort of attendees,” said Vasquez.

Added to the weather challenges of an outdoor event, the number of graduates is growing, and awarding all degrees on the same day results in more vehicle traffic than the University’s parking lots can handle. Increasingly dangerous overcrowding of campus roads on Commencement day creates the potential for blocked roads that could be needed for emergency vehicles and building access.

The Saturday ceremony designed specifically for graduate students will allow the University to better accommodate its growing population of graduates in both master’s and doctoral programs, said Vasquez.  This new ceremony will include the awarding of graduate degrees and the hooding of all students receiving doctoral degrees.  All graduate students will walk across the main stage as their names are announced and shake hands with the president, provost and dean of their school or college. Official diplomas will be sent to each graduate’s permanent address within 10 days of Commencement.

“Graduate students, their families, and friends will also enjoy easier access to campus and parking options since there will be no competition with the large number of undergraduate students and their guests who will not be on campus until the following day (Sunday, May 20),” said Vasquez.

If there is rain on the day of the undergraduate ceremony, those guests who cannot fit under the new tent or do not wish to stay outside will be directed to classrooms in Hillyer, Auerbach, and Dana (Mali 1 & 2 included); to Millard Auditorium, Suisman Lounge, the Auerbach tent, and the new Shaw Center space; and to the Sports Center arena. The main ceremony will be broadcast to all those locations. Each undergraduate diploma presentation for the schools and colleges will take place under a roof or tent whether fair weather or rain, except for the Hartford Art School, which will be at the usual outdoor site in fair weather and in case of rain, will be in University Commons.

Please watch for additional details about Commencement online (at, especially beginning with spring semester.

 If you have any questions now about the changes to Commencement, please contact Associate Provost Chuck Colarulli at