Third ceremony added to winter graduation, application fees increase

Third ceremony added to winter graduation, application fees increase

The university announced Oct. 1 there will be a third ceremony for winter graduation. Tickets will not be required to attend the ceremonies.

Several factors went into deciding on the third ceremony, according to Director of Communications and Marketing Bryan Rachal.

“There were many variables that informed our decision,” said UNA President Kenneth Kitts. “Due to university growth and the increasing diversity and expansion of popular programs, we expect to have a high number of graduates this December and in future winter commencements.”

Students graduating from the Anderson College of Nursing and Health Professionals and College of Education and Human Sciences will have their ceremony Dec. 14. Students graduating from the College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Business will have their ceremonies Dec. 15.

“We had planned to implement a three-ceremony commencement in May 2019, and this simply shifts that strategy to December 2018,” said Chief Enrollment Officer and Assistant to the President for Diversity Ron Patterson said. “The university wants to do what is best for students and their families.”

There will also be a summer graduation in August 2019.

“The addition of multiple ceremonies in December and May, plus an August commencement represents the continued growth and health of the institution,” said Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Ross Alexander.

SGA President Chase Holcombe said the Student Government Association did not have a hand in the decision making process to add the third ceremony.

“We had somewhat of a disconnect in the decision making process,” Holcombe said. “The student members who were representing SGA on the commencement committee were not present when the decision was made. We did not have representation. We are all learning from this and hopefully we can avoid a breakdown in the future.”

Holcombe said he thinks the committee forgot to seek student input.

“Since we did not know about it until after the decisions were already being made, we did not have a chance to get involved in the decision to institute the ticketing policy,” Holcombe said. “As for the new decision to add a ceremony, we did have some indirect input.”

Holcombe said even though there was no formal vote, the organization expressed their concerns to Patterson when he was present at the senate meeting Sept. 20.

“We hope that our concerns helped lead to the new decision, but we are going to make sure that we have active student representation on committees around the university in the future,” Holcombe said.

During the senate meeting Sept. 20, it was announced the application fees for graduation would increase from $30 to $40, beginning with the 2018 winter graduation.

Patterson said the application fee is the lowest in the state. Most colleges average $55 to $60 for fees.

The application fee for graduation at The University of West Alabama is $100 and the application fee for The University of Alabama in Huntsville is $50.

“UNA is still well below the average cost among our peer institutions for graduation fees,” Holcombe said. “The fees will help offset the cost of the more professional commencement gear.”

The fees will cover the cost of the Latin honor stoles and new graduation attire.

Students graduating with Summa Cum Laude will have gold stoles, those graduating with Magna Cum Laude will have silver stoles and those graduating with Cum Laude will have white stoles.

Graduate students will now wear black regalias and undergraduate students will wear purple. The mortarboards will have the university seal and diplomas will now have a purple cover.