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December commencements return to campus

Judy Albertson

Solomon Kuffour '10 (Undeclared), Judy Albertson (Development), Michael Vanderbilt '08 (Theatre Arts, Political Science) from the Commencement Office and Erick Hart (Athletics) in the Athletic and Wellness Center's new gym where the December Commencement Ceremonies will be held on Dec. 14 and 15.

The campus community has come together to host the December Undergraduate and Graduate Commencement Ceremonies in the Athletic and Wellness Center's new gym on Dec. 14 and 15.

This will be the first time the winter ceremonies, which recognize the achievements of August and December graduates, have been held on campus since the college's firstever December commencement took place on Dec. 2, 2000 in the Elting Gym. Since 2001, both the undergraduate and graduate ceremonies have been held at the Mid-Hudson Civic Center in Poughkeepsie.

Judy Albertson (Development), coordinator of the commencement ceremonies, and her staff of eight students have been working closely with Erick Hart from the Athletics Department, Brian Pine from Facilities Operations, Pat Dewitt from the Custodial Department and Ray Bryant from University Police to prepare for the event's return to campus.

Hart, assistant director of facilities, has been working with the Commencement Office to ensure that all the departments involved are in sync. He added that the Athletics Department is excited about hosting the event. "It provides us the opportunity to utilize the facility for an occasion outside of athletics, which reaffirms our commitment to the student body," he said.

The new gym has a seating capacity of 1,800, compared to the Civic Center's 3,000 seats.

In order to accommodate as many people as possible, there will be three ceremonies held over the two days.

The Undergraduate Ceremony for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the School of Education will take place on Friday, Dec. 14, from 6 to 8 p.m. The following day, Saturday, Dec. 15, from 10 a.m. to noon, there will be the Undergraduate Ceremony for the School of Business, the School of Fine and Performing Arts and the School of Science and Engineering. The Graduate Ceremony will take place from 2:30 to 4 p.m.

Albertson says that the smaller number of attendees at the winter ceremonies lead to an intimate atmosphere where the emphasis is on the interaction between students and faculty.

Last year, more than 558 graduates attended the ceremonies held at the Civic Center. Albertson said the number of students participating in commencement this December remains about the same as last year.

The success from previous commencement ceremonies held in the gym led to talks about bringing the winter ceremonies back to campus. The first ceremony to be held in the new gym of the Athletic and Wellness Center, which opened in March 2006, was the May 2006 Graduate Ceremony.

When the decision to bring the ceremonies back to campus was made, the Commencement Office purchased a new stage for the event that can be used for future ceremonies, as well as other campus events.

The ceremonies have a special meaning for Bethany Coates '07 (Spanish) who, after three years of working in the Commencement Office, will don a cap and gown as a December 2007 graduate.

"It is fitting that we say goodbye on the same ground on which we began our college careers," said Coates. For more information, visit www.newpaltz.edu/commencement.