Spring Commencement Gets Centennial Spin

By on May 9, 2014

All things UTEP have a special spin this Centennial year and Commencement is no exception.

Next Saturday, the University will present the largest Commencement of its 100-year history.

“This is the biggest-ever graduation ceremony in terms of number of graduates,” said Liliana Barrios Chavez, manager of University Events in the Office of University Relations, who is referring to it as a “grand Commencement” given the number of people who will be in one place to celebrate these students and their achievements.Public parking for Commencement

Graduation Coordinator Richard S. Bartlett of UTEP’s Registration and Records Office agrees this is the most significant graduation based on the more than 2,700 students who are eligible to graduate.

The buzz aboutSpring Commencementbegan in January when the University announced the ceremony would move to Sun Bowl Stadium and instead of three separate ceremonies there would be a single, combined celebration at 7 p.m. Saturday, May 17.

The last time UTEP graduates walked across the stage in Sun Bowl Stadium was for UTEP’s 100thCommencement in 1998. Former U.S. President George W. Bush, who was the Governor of Texas at the time, served as the featured speaker.

This spring, special guests include UT System Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa, M.D., who will give remarks, UT System Board of Regents Chair Paul Foster, who will confer the degrees, and UT System Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Pedro Reyes, Ph.D.

The ceremony’s logistics aren’t the only special aspects of Spring Commencement. The first doctoral degree from UTEP’s new biomedical engineering program will be awarded to Daniel Reyna Soriano for his work using inkjet printing technology to create suitable platforms containing oxygen that help cells to grow in difficult environments.

“I feel the strong and deep responsibility to encourage people to get out of the University all the invaluable things I have received during these years,” Reyes Soriano said. “UTEP is a home where opportunities are available for people who want to succeed, preparing students with values and knowledge to achieve their dreams.”

Another first is a group of undergraduates who will receive the inaugural Bachelor of Arts in Women’s and Gender Studies degrees from UTEP. Claudia Taylor, Adrian Chavez and Amara Williams blaze the trail for this College of Liberal Arts program. The degree program has been in the works since 2007 and was approved in July 2013 after the creation of more than 20 new courses.

springcommencement“This growth was made possible through the continued commitment of our affiliate faculty with women’s, gender and sexuality studies research agendas and teaching expertise in departments throughout Liberal Arts, Health Sciences, Science and Education,” said Director of Women’s and Gender Studies Brenda A. Risch, Ph.D.

A graduation reception honoring the Women’s and Gender Studies majors, minors, graduate certificate students, alumni, previous directors and outstanding alumna Kandolite Flores — volunteer and communications coordinator for the Humane Society of El Paso and former KFOX reporter — is being held Friday, May 9. Details can be found here.

During the Spring Commencement’s special, all-in-one ceremony, names of all graduates will be read and each graduate will cross the Sun Bowl Stadium stage to be acknowledged and greeted by President Diana Natalicio.

While this spring’s Commencement won’t formally utilize the Don Haskins Center, graduates will initially gather there before proceeding as a group to Sun Bowl Stadium.

UTEP’s Center for Accommodations and Support Services is recruiting volunteers to serve as placeholders for students with disabilities who are unable to make the walk from the Don Haskins Center to Sun Bowl Stadium. To volunteer, contact CASS at 915-747-5148 or cass@utep.edu.

Degree candidates should plan to leave all personal items including purses, cell phones and coats with family or in their cars before arriving at the Don Haskins Center no later than 4:15 p.m. for check-in, which will take place on the east side (Mesa St.) of the arena starting at 4 p.m. Personal items as well as beach balls, balloons, confetti, noise makers or other party paraphernalia will not be allowed in Sun Bowl Stadium. Comfortable shoes are a must.

The check-in process for graduates includes having a photo taken in full regalia. After all graduates have been checked in, the student procession will depart from the Don Haskins Center led by the Marching Miner Regiment for arrival at Sun Bowl Stadium by 7 p.m.

Parking details, hotel and transportation information for out-of-town visitors, regalia purchasing links, and other information is available at www.utep.edu/commencement. Graduates are asked to RSVP at the same website in order to help with the event planning process.

For friends and family, Sun Bowl Stadium will open at 5:30 p.m. Choice seats are expected to be grabbed early on, so guests should plan on arriving at least 30 minutes prior to the ceremony’s 7 p.m. start time. Attendees also are asked to allow ample time for parking. Given the anticipated crowds, choosing a lot or space away from the stadium may be the best time-saver. Free shuttles from the Schuster parking lots – P-1, P-2, P-3 and P-4 – will be available beginning at 4:30 p.m. Free public parking also will be available in the Sun Bowl Parking Garage and lots S-3 and S-4 near the University Avenue roundabout.

Guests should note that baby strollers, glass containers, tripods, coolers or ice chests, laser pointers, fireworks, and signs or banners are not permitted in Sun Bowl Stadium for Commencement. The stadium’s concession stands will be open, but no beer will be sold, as alcohol is not permitted during the ceremony.

A fireworks display will conclude the University’s 132nd Commencement Ceremony.

December graduates won’t be left out in the cold this winter, as the University also is working on special plans for its 2014 Winter Commencement, which will be held Saturday, December 13, 2014.

Published 5//9/2014 at http://news.utep.edu/?p=24540

Lisa Garibay is a writer in UTEP's Office of University Communications.