A change of scenery: Butler University spring commencement is moved to the Butler Bowl for the sixth time in history


The spring 2014 commencement ceremony will take place in the Butler Bowl, due to renovations in Hinkle Fieldhouse.
Seating capacity will decrease from 10,000 seats available in Hinkle to 5,100 in the stands of the Butler bowl. That does not include the seating available on the field’s turf. Seats placed here will be reserved for VIP seating and people who are unable to walk in the stands due to mobility issues.
Audience members who do not wish to sit outside, and students who want to watch but are not given a ticket by graduates will be able to view the ceremony on a live feed in Clowes Memorial Hall.
“Anytime we put on something that’s so important, whether it’s that first impression—orientation—the bookend—which is commencement—we’re going to do that right,” Vice President for Student Affairs Levester Johnson said.
The planning committee, led by Meg Haggerty, associate director of student affairs, is estimating that students will get five or six tickets for friends or family members who wish to come to the ceremony. Last year’s seniors had nine.
“Even with the reduced number, we still give out more tickets than any other school in Indiana that I know of,” Haggerty said.
The committee planning commencement first learned the location would need to change last spring once the university committed to raise $25 million it needed to renovate Hinkle. Renovation will start as soon as basketball season ends, Johnson said.
“Most of the funds are here,” Johnson said. “All phases have been approved, and we’re ready to pull the trigger.”
Initially, the planning committee asked if renovation could be delayed, but the construction will already extend into next football season. If they wait any longer, it could interfere with more of football season and some of basketball season.
This year’s graduating class has mixed opinions about the new venue.
“I saw it coming with the renovations. It’s better than the mall or something, but Hinkle is a huge aspect of this school,” senior Tanner Walter, said. “I have a lot of memories there, so I’m a little disappointed.”
Senior Heather Wolfgang is more optimistic about the situation.
“At first I was upset because the first thing I think about Butler is Butler basketball and Hinkle,” Wolfgang said. “But if it is nice out, I think it will be an awesome ceremony. However, I do not think it is acceptable in the slightest to still have us walk if it’s even sprinkling.” The Butler University Police Department will be using its advanced Doppler radar system to determine the safety of the ceremony in the event of inclement weather.
In case of light rain, the ceremony will continue as scheduled in the Bowl, but the program will move to a shortened “rain script.” Instead of having everyone walk across the stage, students will pick up their diploma at an alternate location after the speeches, Haggerty said.
If there is heavier rain, there could be a rain delay of four or six hours. If the weather system is forecasted to move slowly through the area, the ceremony could be delayed by a day if they have the approval of high-ranking university officials.
“Moving to an entire day would be a last resort if need be, just given that it would create a significant impact for our families and our students,” Haggerty said.
Weather delays will be communicated in as many ways as possible, utilizing Butler’s website, social media accounts and possibly a phone number people could call, she said.
This will be the fifth time Butler has its commencement ceremony in the Bowl.
“We have been working on this for so long, it’s funny now to talk about it,” Haggerty said. “It’s so much been a part of my research and life for the past few months, it’s nice to get it out there and tell other people.”


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