By Farris Willingham, Editor-in-Chief
Some seniors will walk a different path for graduation this year.
The university will host commencement ceremonies only in May because of budget cuts, forcing students who planned to graduate in December to walk at a different time, Dorothy Tennery, executive assistant to the provost, wrote in an email.
Students who expect to graduate in December 2012 may participate in the May 2012 or the May 2013 commencement ceremonies, she wrote.
The university hosted its last winter commencement ceremony for undergraduate and graduate students in December 2011.
“As with other universities and businesses across the United States, Oklahoma City University has experienced issues related to the economic downturn and resulting financial challenges,” Tennery wrote. “Departments campus-wide have been asked to examine their budgets and find savings wherever possible while still remaining true to our mission.”
Officials had a difficult time cutting from the budget, said Susan Barber, acting provost.
“When our choices are cutting scholarships, people or a ceremony, we decided to cut the ceremony,” she said.
About 700 students attend the commencement ceremony in May, and about 250 attend the December ceremony, said Diana Silver, academic services specialist. About 100 Singaporean students graduate at each ceremony.
The Singapore program is a complete Bachelor of Arts degree program, which requires full-time, university professors to travel to Singapore to teach on site and international students to fly to Oklahoma for residency either in December or May, said Karlie Harmon, professor of mass communications.
Even though students from the Singapore program who graduate during December will not participate in a commencement ceremony at the university, they still will be able to celebrate in a ceremony hosted in Singapore, Barber said.
“The School of Adult and Continuing Education also holds a dinner for the Singapore students,” she said. “They host it to celebrate those visiting students.
“If there’s anything regarding commencement with the Singapore program, it will happen within the framework of their dinner.”
This year isn’t the first time budget cuts resulted in the cancellation of December commencement, Barber said. The university discontinued the December ceremony several years ago.
“The schools hosted individual ceremonies,” she said. “When that happened, we didn’t really save any money.
“We cut other things to bring the ceremony back.”
The separate schools’ officials will not host ceremonies this year, except for Sarkeys Law Center, which is funded by its own budget, Barber said.
Amanda Lee, who will graduate in May, said she thinks not having a commencement doesn’t devalue a student’s education.
“You still have an awesome degree,” she said. “You just won’t have the same experience as other seniors.”