Campus ready for large crowds to celebrate Class of 2018
Guests to Saturday’s main Commencement ceremony at Liberty University will be among the first to experience an event inside the newly expanded Williams Stadium.
According to Dan Deter, vice president of major construction, the university bumped up its construction timeline so the new east side upper deck could accommodate the Commencement crowd. Though unfinished, the project will not interfere with the event. Protective fencing is in place along the edges, and seat cushions will be provided. The upper deck adds 4,500 extra seats on Commencement day (and it will add 6,000 seats when fully complete). Additional restrooms and concessions will be set up along the east side.
“That whole upper deck has a steeper rake than the other side, so there are better lines of sight to the field and to the stage,” Deter said. “The families and friends who sit there are going to be the first people to get a chance to get those views.”
The expansion was planned in preparation of Flames Football’s move to the FBS level this fall and will bring seating capacity to 25,000. Crews have also filled in the south end zone and begun work on new stadium entrances.
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Commencement is not only the biggest event of the year at Liberty, it is also the largest event to be held in the Central Virginia region, with almost every lodging business in the area fully booked several months in advance. Liberty expects a crowd of close to 40,000 on Saturday; about 8,000 of the nearly 20,200 members of the Class of 2018 are scheduled to participate in the ceremonies. (Sixty-eight percent of this year’s class are graduates of Liberty’s online program; see more Class of 2018 statistics below.)
“This weekend is a celebration for graduates completing their degrees and for their families and friends who have been supporting them throughout their education,” said Lori Baker, senior associate registrar and Commencement program manager. “We take pride in making the Commencement experience at Liberty great for everyone.”
Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter will deliver the keynote address for the 45th Commencement ceremony, which starts at 10 a.m. U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Dr. Ben Carson will also attend the morning ceremony and is scheduled to address the first graduating class from the Liberty University College of Osteopathic Medicine in the afternoon.
Gates open at 6:30 a.m. The clear bag policy is in place. Prohibited items, including umbrellas, are listed online. Liberty increased the number of entrances and metal detectors from last year to help speed up the security screening process for guests. After the ceremony, the university will hold close to 30 degree presentation ceremonies all across campus for graduates of individual schools and colleges. Graduates will be recognized by name and walk across the stage to receive their diplomas.
The Class of 2018 will have a chance to gather on Friday night for the annual Baccalaureate Service at 6 p.m. in the Vines Center. The time-honored traditional service celebrates Liberty’s Christian commitment to the Great Commission and the Great Commandment. Doors open at 4:30 p.m. Pastor and Board of Trustees member David Rhodenhizer will deliver the message.
More than 6,000 members of the Class of 2018 have military ties. A proud military supportive institution, Liberty will honor service members, veterans, and their spouses with a number of events, including the Military Graduate Recognition Ceremony, Friday at 7:30 p.m. in the Vines Center (directly following Baccalaureate).
Class of 2018 Facts & Figures
- Liberty is awarding 1,322 associate degrees, 9,420 bachelor’s degrees, 754 graduate certificates, 8,453 master’s degrees, 46 juris doctorates from Liberty University School of Law, and 594 doctoral degrees, in addition to its Home Bible Institute and Willmington School of the Bible theology graduates (191 and 80, respectively) and 306 Liberty Online Academy high school program graduates.
- This year marks the first graduating class for the accredited Liberty University College of Osteopathic Medicine, which celebrates 126 graduates.
- The top states represented by this year’s graduating class are: Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Texas, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, California, Maryland, and Ohio. Outside of the U.S., Liberty’s diverse graduating class most represents Canada, Korea, China, Nigeria, Germany, Vietnam, Japan, Haiti, and the United Kingdom.
- Liberty’s Class of 2018 includes 5,656 graduating with honors, including 1,305 with a perfect 4.0 GPA. There are 47 married couples graduating together, as well as 23 parents graduating with a child and 52 pairs of siblings, including seven sets of twins.
- The average age of the graduating class is 35 years old. The oldest graduate is 89, earning an associate degree. The oldest bachelor’s graduate is 85, and the oldest postgraduate degree recipient is 79. The youngest member of the Class of 2018 earned an associate at age 16, and Liberty’s youngest bachelor’s and graduate degree recipients are both 17.
- Top 5 Online Undergraduate Majors
- Top 5 Online Graduate Majors
Human Services Counseling
Master of Business Administration
Master of Education
Master of Arts in Teaching
- Top 5 Residential Undergraduate Majors
- Top 5 Residential Graduate Majors
Clinical Mental Health Counseling
Juris Doctorate (Law)
Master of Business Administration