Commencement 2016 – Anticipation
Students, staff prepare for graduation
More than 6,700 Liberty University graduates will dress in their regalia and walk down the field at Williams Stadium with “Pomp and Circumstance” playing May 14.
This day is a mile marker and an achievement of a lifetime, Lori Baker, associate registrar for operations at Liberty University, said.
“This is a celebration for the graduates but also for the family,” Baker said. “Our role is to make sure all the logistics work, but to (also) make this weekend as enjoyable and exciting for the graduates as well as their guests.”
Baker said Liberty is preparing for over 30,000 guests to come onto campus for graduation, making it the largest commencement Liberty has had to date. To prepare for it, Baker said planning began last October. This year will be Baker’s ninth year organizing commencement.
Baker estimates there will be around 35,000 people in Williams Stadium during commencement. Williams Stadium only seats 19,200 people, so bleachers and chairs will be added, and there will be standing room as well.
Students can check into commencement Friday, May 13 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the LaHaye Student Union. There students can pick up their reader cards, medallions and cords.
Students will also be given the chance to visit with the Liberty alumni department, get pictures in their regalia and buy T-shirts and DVDs for sale.
Also on Friday, the graduate reception will take place at the Williams Stadium concourse, where students, parents and faculty will be able to meet with each other for food and drinks.
The gates for commencement open at 7 a.m. Baker explained that seating is limited, so she highly suggests arriving early when the gates open.
Graduates need to arrive between 7:30 and 8 a.m. The processional will begin at 8:45 a.m.
After commencement, each degree program has its own ceremony, which will last anywhere from 45 minutes to two hours, Baker said.
Since there will be so many people on campus, Baker said to look for parking on East, but to also try to park close to their friend’s or relative’s degree ceremony.
“We have about 45-50 buses running that day,” Baker said.
“We have 50 golf carts that we’ve rented to help those that need assistance…Anywhere that you park you will have access to shuttles to be able to get you to the stadium.”
Baker also said that handicapped guests with valid credentials will have access to the Speakman lot, which is located directly behind the bookstore.
Seating for handicapped guests will be located in the top five rows under the tower.
For out-of-town guests, Baker said it is too late to get a hotel in Lynchburg. However, there are still some hotels available within an hour radius.
“You are going to have to go to Charlottesville or about an hour away,” Baker said.
“You don’t want to just show up and try to find something. You are playing roulette at that point.”
Guests travelling on Rt. 460 West to get to commencement will drive into construction being done to the road.
Lynchburg VDOT spokeswoman Paula Jones assured travelers that there will be no delays on the road on the day of commencement.
“You should not see any problems with getting to Liberty’s commencement in the next few weeks,” Jones said.
“We have reduced the speed limit to 45 to help with the traffic flow. There should not be a great deal of traffic entering or leaving the highway.”
Baker said that in the case of inclement weather, there are 30,000 ponchos set aside for all the guests.
There are no umbrellas allowed in Williams Stadium, therefore, guests and graduates should dress according to the weather.
Baker said it is very important for guests and graduates to plan ahead. Guests should dress in business attire.
She said everyone should eat a good breakfast, wear comfortable shoes, bring sunglasses and sunscreen and have their camera ready.
For any last minute questions, graduates and guests can email commencement @liberty.edu or go
FROST is a news reporter.
Robertson is a news reporter.