The University of Wyoming is looking to cut commencement costs by up to 80 percent.
UW spends approximately $250,000 annually on graduation ceremonies; it’s looking to cut those expenses to roughly $50,000-$60,000.
A commencement taskforce chaired by College of Education Dean Ray Reutzel recommended limiting the ceremonies to a single day and location, along with other, smaller changes, during a Board of Trustees meeting Nov. 17.
“In the past, the colleges held their own commencement sessions,” Reutzel said. “They were held over multiple days and they were held in multiple venues.
The recommendations to the president from the task force are that we have all-university commencement exercises … held upon a single day, Saturday, held in a single venue.”
The proposed commencement schedule would break up the day into three two-hour sessions. The first, starting at 8:30 a.m. would serve undergraduates from the College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Education and the Haub School of Environment and Natural Resources. The second session, beginning at noon, would serve graduate students receiving master’s or doctorate degrees. The final session, starting at 3:30 p.m. would serve undergraduates from all other colleges and schools.
The College of Law would continue to host its own, separate commencement paid for by the college itself. Reutzel said this would be in keeping with the College of Law’s tradition of hosting its own ceremony — a tradition it has kept for more than one hundred years.
The configuration of the three sessions recommended by the taskforce would ensure each is limited to roughly 500-550 students.
“We can, if we really pushed it, graduate up to 700 students in a single two-hour session, but the metronome would be ticking quite quickly as the students went by and we thought that might send a message we’re doing it too quickly,” Reutzel said. “And parents would look at that as not honoring their students properly.”
The commencement sessions would be held in the newly refurbished Arena-Auditorium.
Completing the hooding ceremony for graduate students offstage — a departure from UW tradition — would also cut down on the length of commencement, Reutzel said.
“We looked at best practice for master’s students and found that nationally, most universities do not hood their master’s students,” he said. “The students come to the commencement wearing their hoods already. Now that’s different than what has happened at the University of Wyoming for many years.”
The taskforce recommendations suggest master’s candidates be hooded by trained hooding marshals before stepping on-stage. The taskforce also recommended limiting the number of speakers and utilizing a two-ramp stage for greater efficiency.
During town hall meetings, the commencement taskforce listened to public input regarding the proposed changes. Removing the hooding ceremony, as well as the other changes, were met with some pushback, Reutzel said.
“The general sense is because we are now doing this in a more systematic and tempo-driven fashion that maybe that would make the thing feel less personal than it has in the past,” he said.
The money saved, however, will be worth the sacrifice, said ASUW President Ben Wetzel, speaking for the student government.
“The majority of the senate was in support, definitely under the impression that $250,000 of funding for (three days) … was a little extreme,” he said. “And they would rather see that going to things that are more directly impacting the actual educational needs of the students.”
Trustees voiced support for the proposed changes, though no vote was taken.
“People here care about graduates and the commencement is very important, but I certainly support what you’re doing here,” Trustee Mel Baldwin said. “I think what you’re doing is the way it ought to be.”