The University of Minnesota's Twin Cities campus announced Tuesday that it will hold two large graduation ceremonies this spring and a series of smaller events that allow students to be individually recognized.
After the university announced this fall that renovations at the 3M Arena at Mariucci could alter its graduation plans, some students and parents called on the U to ensure that its ceremonies include an opportunity for students to walk across the stage to receive their diplomas.
The university announced Tuesday that it will hold degree conferral ceremonies at Huntington Bank Stadium for graduate and undergraduate students on May 12 and 13, respectively. Individual colleges and departments will also hold their own events that allow graduates to hear their name announced, cross a stage and have a photograph taken. Those events will take place May 11 through 13.
"We heard adamantly that graduates wanted an opportunity to cross the stage and have their family cheer and be with their friends," Executive Vice President and Provost Rachel Croson said. "What we developed is this stage-crossing opportunity which is designed to give people exactly that experience."
Among those who called for the U to provide a chance for students to be individually recognized was senior Olivia Szatkowski, whose online petition gathered more than 8,000 signatures.
Szatkowski said Tuesday afternoon that she still has some concerns — such as what might happen to the outdoor ceremonies if there's bad weather — but that she's thankful she'll have a chance to hear her name called.
"It just kind of doesn't feel real until you have that moment," Szatkowski said.
The university said it plans to hold the events rain or shine but could delay or cancel if the weather is severe, keeping with stadium policies.