Campus, community gears up for 108th commencement ceremony

Photo courtesy of UMAC.

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Over 1,000 students are signed up to walk across the stage in their caps and gowns at Trailblazer Stadium to celebrate Dixie State University’s 108th Commencement Ceremony and mark the end of their time at the university.

There are 1,828 students estimated for the DSU class of 2019, according to an email by President Biff Williams. The email outlined the important dates and times for those walking in the commencement ceremony, which starts at 8 a.m. on May 3; students are asked to report to the lawn north of the Kenneth S. Gardner Student Center at 7:15 a.m., and the stadium opens for guests at 7 a.m.

There are no commencement tickets and seating is first come first serve, Williams said. The email also announced this year’s speaker is Steve Starks, the president of the Utah Jazz and Larry H. Miller Sports and Entertainment.

Students are invited to sign the books that make up the cloud mural located in the Jeffrey R. Holland Centennial Commons building on May 1. The DSU and St. George communities are also invited to attend the annual Dixie Awards ceremony on May 1 beginning at 7 p.m. in the Dolores Doré Eccles Fine Arts Center Mainstage Theatre.

Megan Church, events and promotions coordinator, said the process for planning this year’s commencement began immediately after the end of last year’s ceremony.

“We actually get together right after the end of commencement and talk about what worked, what things we can improve, and what things can we make bigger and better next year,” Church said.

An improvement discussed in the meeting included offering a drone, which will be available to take aerial photos and videos of the ceremony, and photos of the graduates will still be available at no extra cost. Added faculty marshalls, refreshment stations and picture opportunities were some of the priorities for this year’s ceremony, Church said. She said another aspect of last year’s ceremony they are hoping to improve is security after people were coming down onto the field while the ceremony was still happening.

Church and 24 other members meet as a committee each October to begin making concrete plans for May’s ceremony, including deciding the date and time and booking the venue, she said. The committee is a mix of faculty, staff, students and specialized coordinators, Church said, and as a committee, they plan every detail, including the music played while students get ready to line up and who will take down decorations after the ceremony.

“Everyone on campus is involved in commencement,” Church said.

Graduation Coordinator Elyse Bennett said the most frequently asked question is when and where students can pick up their graduation caps and gowns and any additional regalia.

Graduating students can pick up their caps and gowns, announcements, honors cords, stoles and certificates during the grad fair. The Alumni Association is hosting the grad fair on May 1-2 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Stephen and Marcia Wade Alumni House. Silver alumni cords are also available to students for $20.19, which would be a graduate’s first donation to the Alumni Association. In honor of Cinco de Mayo, the grad fair will include catering from the Green Iguana in what John Bowler, director of alumni relations, is calling the “grad fair fiesta.”

Bowler said the grad fair is a time for the graduating students to celebrate their success and a time for the Alumni Association to welcome its new members by giving them free DSU gear and introducing themselves.

“It’s really about a celebration of [students] graduating [and] becoming alumni,” Bowler said.

Bowler said for students who are moving on from DSU, the Alumni Association is looking to keep in touch with its students.

At the grad fair, students can fill out a survey to inform the Alumni Association of their plans, Bowler said, and this information will later be compiled into a database, so the association can send personalized information to graduates, including children’s sports camps and tutoring opportunities.

Church said the commencement ceremony is an “incredible” day for graduates and a time to celebrate all of the years spent working toward their degrees.

“This is, for a lot of people, their last day on campus as a student,” Church said. “Take the time to really soak it in and just enjoy it… Make it memorable because this is your time and this day is about you.”

For more information regarding the commencement ceremony and department receptions and awards, students are encouraged to visit dixie.edu/commencement; additional questions can be sent to [email protected]. Students can also visit graduation.dixie.edu for additional resources.