UI forced to shift sites of many graduations


The effects of last year’s flood are still lingering — with Hancher Auditorium closed, officials at many UI colleges were forced to relocate graduation ceremonies.

“Because Hancher wasn’t available, we had to determine space in the area that would hold a sufficient number of students and guests,” said Julie Fell, the senior associate director for graduation analysis in the Registrar’s Office. Along with commencement planning, the office also works with UI police for the ceremony and assists the University Bookstore with ordering caps and gowns.

Registrar’s Office officials said they began looking for new venues after last June’s flood.

“We got together with different deans to discuss what their options and needs were, including crowd demand,” said UI Registrar Larry Lockwood.

In the fall, college deans and commencement coordinators chose the new graduation locations, which will be held in the IMU, Carver-Hawkeye Arena, and the Coralville Marriott Hotel and Conference Center.

Because of the UI College of Nursing’s smaller graduation class — 126 students will walk at the ceremony — Jan Zinkula, a clerk in the school, said choosing the IMU wasn’t a difficult decision.

“We looked at both [the IMU and the Marriott] and just felt we fit into the IMU,” she said. “If we were any larger, we’d have to go to the Marriott.”

UI College of Engineering officials also chose the IMU, saying the location was a big part of the building’s appeal. The college will host a brunch for graduates and their families before the ceremony, making the two events within walking distance of each other.

But the new locations have a few drawbacks, UI officials said. Previously, Hancher provided staffing, and seating was built-in. Now, colleges with ceremonies in the IMU and Carver must find their own ushers and volunteers to pass out programs. Setting up seats and constructing stages will be an additional change for ceremonies in the IMU.

“Hancher does so much,” said Jill Gerot, a UI College of Engineering secretary. “Now we have to make all the arrangements that we wouldn’t typically have done.”

UI Tippie College of Business officials agreed, and they said they also had to find additional staff for the event.

The business school originally planned commencement for May 16, said Amy Bartachek, assistant director of the First-Year Experience program. After officials chose Carver, they had to move the date to May 17 to accommodate the other scheduled ceremonies.

Still, Bartachek said, the new site carries one big advantage — now, students can bring as many guests as they want. When graduation was held at Hancher, students were granted four to five tickets.

Carver could hold many of the graduation ceremonies for upcoming years, said Lockwood, but UI officials are still looking at conflicts the athletics complex may have, which include sports practices and previously scheduled events.

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