Office of the Chancellor


E-mail message to the UW-Green Bay student community
March 19, 2003

In case of rain:
Two commencements
Chancellor Bruce Shepard shared the following e-mail message with UW-Green Bay's 5,300 students concerning changes to one of the foremost traditions at any university: spring commencement.

Welcome back. Hope, as you return from spring break and read this, that you have had a good time, finding opportunities to relax and catch up with family and friends even as, I know, many of you also have demanding employment and other obligations. I am so proud of you, our UWGB students, and the dedication you bring to your studies - I brag about you all the time - but I also am confident you know how to have fun and sure hope you were able to do so over the break.
    I am writing to update you on a question that several students have raised with me. It concerns Spring Commencement. For years, the practice has been to have Commencement outside in the spring. I am told (I have not actually participated in an outside Spring Commencement yet) that it is a beautiful ceremony and a beautiful time of the year to celebrate what is, in the life of a university, our happiest day of the year.
    Then there is the fly in the ointment. What happens if it rains?
    Past practice has been to move indoors to our Weidner Center. It's a beautiful site but, once all graduates are seated, there is limited seating for guests. Last year, each graduate was given 4 tickets for use by guests in the event of rain. This year, because of an unusually large graduating class, it looks like each guest would only get 2 tickets. That is not right.
    The ceremony has been moved because of rain, I am told, twice in 15 years. Six out of seven times, it's a great experience. But, about one in seven times, there are some very disappointed family members who must watch the graduation on big screen TV's. This would be particularly bad should it rain this spring.
&nbps;   What to do? We have been looking at many options: Resch Center, Brown County Arena, Phoenix Sports Center, tents or awnings, ....
    Some options were eliminated: Resch Center is not available, Phoenix Sports Center does not really add any significant seating capacity beyond that of the Weidner, tents and awnings would be quite expensive and would not protect all the guests. That left two viable options:
    1. Brown County Arena as the site rain or shine. (Using it only as a backup for rain would create all sorts of last minute confusion in getting everybody to the correct site and also would add greatly to the cost since it is quite expensive to set up on campus and also rent the arena.)
    2. Usual approach but with a new wrinkle. We would have commencement outside if weather permitted. In the event of rain, there would be two identical ceremonies in the Weidner. (Lots of bigger campuses use two or more identical ceremonies.) Outside or inside with two ceremonies, we would still fit the ceremony (or ceremonies) in the noon to 4:30 time slot. Advantage of the dual ceremonies is that number of guest tickets would more than double (because seats that would have been used by half the graduates would become available for guests). Each graduate would receive 5 tickets for guests, and there would be a pool of additional tickets available for those who needed them.
    I consulted with SGA leadership. I have been strongly advised that option 2 is preferred. Graduates want to be on their campus and, if at all possible, outside. I heard of comments like: "Hey, I had my high school graduation in Brown County Arena, and I don't want my feet sticking to the floors again."
    We will follow this recommendation. The ceremony will be outside and on campus. Details on plans in the event of rain will be sent to each graduate but will include dual ceremonies in order to increase the number of guest tickets available to each graduate.
    Just wanted to let you know what was happening. Here's hoping for good weather. And, for completion of the Sports/Events Center and the much greater flexibility that will bring.

Again, welcome back



photo of Cofrin Libary
Office of the Chancellor
David A. Cofrin Library, Suite 810
University of Wisconsin-Green Bay
2420 Nicolet Drive
Green Bay, WI 54311-7001
Phone: 920-465-2207
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Revised 7/31/06

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