Apr 3, 2007

Graduates will see the light of day: Commencement to be outdoors

by Matthew Hegarty, Managing Editor
With graduation quickly approaching for Liberty’s Class of 2007, seniors have been consumed with pre-commencement concerns and jitters, including printing graduation announcements, buying caps, gowns, tassels and stoles, and making plans for family and friends to attend.

However, this year’s graduation ceremony will look a little different.

After some deliberation and calculation of projected audience, university administrators have decided to move this year’s commencement exercises outside to Williams Stadium. In past years, graduation has only been moved outside four times.

Larry Shackleton, Vice President for Administration, said the decisions was made because of “anticipated interest from local and state people.”

Several of the public figures that addressed the graduates were high-profile speakers – then-president George H.W. Bush in 1990 and the Rev. Billy Graham in 1997.

This year’s guest at commencement will be Newt Gingrich, the former Speaker of the House who is considering a 2008 presidential run. Shackleton said, he “draws additional interested viewers” outside the Liberty audience.

“It’s truly a space concern this time,” Shackleton said. “It’s the math that led us outside.”

As early as four years ago, Liberty had only 800 graduates who were eligible to walk in graduation exercises, Shackleton said.

This year, however, the projected crowd is more than twice that number – 1,800 to 1,900 graduates are expected to participate in commencement out of a possible pool of 3,300.

According to Shackleton, eligibility to participate in graduation extends to both DLP and residential students.

 In addition, it encompasses all students who have met the requirements for graduation in September, January or May of the academic year in question.

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