Students at UNG’s Gainesville campus face a lengthy drive to graduation in May.
After several months of consideration, UNG administration decided to move graduation ceremonies to the Dahlonega campus’ new convocation center. University president Bonita Jacobs signed off on that change, and several others affecting graduation, in early February.
According to Kate Maine, UNG’s chief of staff, UNG plans to hold three graduation ceremonies at the convocation center, rather than multiple ceremonies on both the Dahlonega and Gainesville campuses.
“In the past few years, due to the space constraints of existing facilities and the increasing number of graduates, we have had to limit commencement tickets occasionally to as few as four tickets per graduate,” Maine said in an email.
Because the 103,000-square-foot convocation center can seat up to 3,600 people, Maine estimates each graduate will get six to eight tickets, depending on the number of students per ceremony.
“We are very excited about having graduation in the new convocation center, as it will enable the university community to gather in one venue to collectively celebrate the success of our graduates,” Maine said.
Some students on UNG’s Gainesville campus have mixed feelings about graduating in Dahlonega.
“I’ve been on [the Gainesville] campus my whole college career,” Emily Pope said. “It would have been nice to graduate from here, but I do think the Dahlonega campus is a whole lot nicer. If it helps me get more tickets so my family can come, I’m not that bummed about it.”
Graduating students will also see changes in garb, such as black robes for all graduates, fewer cords, stoles for bachelor graduates and pins for organizations.
Although gray is the traditional color for associate degree graduate robes, UNG will have all graduates wear black robes, with bachelor’s degree graduates distinguished through the addition of a blue stole, Maine said.
“Graduates often borrow robes from friends, family or other students, rather than purchasing,” Anna Brown, director of university events, said in an email. “Using the same color robe for both degrees allows graduates who need to borrow robes an affordable route to participate in the ceremony.”
Graduates will be allowed to use additional stoles and pins, but not cords, to recognize participation in honors societies and student organizations.
“In keeping with the academic and military missions of the university, the decision was made to reserve cords for those who have achieved academic honors based on GPA and to distinguish military or veteran students,” Brown said.
For some students, the new changes have already proved to be an inconvenience.
“[The Public Relations Society of America] already ordered our cords for all of the graduating seniors,” Pope said. “So we are kind of bummed.”