Butler’s unique spring commencement

This year, commencement will look different than in the past. Collegian file photo.

ALISON MICCOLIS | STAFF REPORTER | amiccolis@butler.edu

Butler University has changed the format of their traditional commencement ceremony to comply with the ongoing COVID-19 regulations. Each college on campus will have their own ceremony in Hinkle Fieldhouse, in addition to an evening commencement for graduate students and the 2020 graduates who were not able to attend an in-person commencement ceremony last year. 

Some elements of the event will remain the same. Graduates will still walk across the stage and receive their diplomas, and they will wear their caps and gown. There are, however, some noticeable changes. The ceremony will be shorter since there will be seven small ceremonies as opposed to one ceremony for the whole university. Graduates will receive up to two general admission guest tickets

Mimi Holden, a senior art and design major, is having trouble deciding who in her family gets to watch her graduate in person. 

“They are doing two visitor tickets per student, which works great for people with nuclear families, I guess,” Holden said. “I don’t have that. I have a dad, two grandparents and an auntie. So I am trying to figure out who gets to come to my graduation out of my like four parents instead of my two parents so that is interesting to see how that will work.” 

Each college will have a commencement ceremony for their Dec. 2020, May 2021 and August 2021 graduates. Here are their plans. 

Jordan College of the Arts 

Saturday, May 8 at 8:30am 

One graduating senior and one faculty member will speak at the Jordan College of the Arts commencement ceremony. In an email to The Butler Collegian, Wendy Meaden, associate dean of JCA, wrote that students were able to nominate a faculty or staff member, their peers or themselves through an online survey. 

Meaden wrote that the faculty speaker was chosen based on the number of student recommendations from the survey. The top three student nominees were asked to submit their ideas or speech draft to a committee of faculty and staff members who chose the final student speaker. 

JCA usually holds a separate ceremony for the hooding of their master’s degree students, but this year, they will combine that ceremony with undergraduate commencement. Another change is the use of recorded music instead of live student performances. 

“The biggest change is the use of recorded music instead of including the ensembles playing live,” Meaden wrote in her email. “While it is the same group and the same music, there is always something special and exciting about live performance that I will miss.” 

College of Communication 

Saturday, May 8 at 12:30pm 

Butler’s College of Communication will have two guest speakers at their commencement. In an email to The Butler Collegian, Suzanne Reading, associate dean of CCOM, wrote that one faculty member and one graduating senior were chosen as speakers by a committee of faculty members. 

Similar to years past, each of the four departments in CCOM plan to have an event where they will give awards and gifts to graduating seniors. This will not be combined with the commencement ceremony. 

Kylie Stine graduated from Butler in December 2020 with bachelor’s degrees in strategic communication and Spanish. She is looking forward to an in-person celebration this spring. She said it will be different but it is a shared experience this graduating class can look back on and know that they got through a wild year together and did the best they could given the circumstances. 

“Butler is like a family no matter what college you’re in,” Stine said. “Starting with your FYS [first-year seminar]… you cross paths with so many different people and that’s one thing that if you have a whole university graduation, it is cool to see [people you know from those places]… But it will be shorter and more intimate, I guess, since it will be CCOM focused. So, yeah, there are pros and cons.” 

Andre B. Lacy School of Business 

Saturday, May 8 at 4:30pm 

The Lacy School of Business will have two student speakers at their ceremony — one graduate from the undergraduate programs and one from the graduate programs. To choose the undergraduate speaker, the department chairs nominated several top graduates, who will be asked to outline their remarks. The department chairs and deans will then choose the speaker. There will be no faculty or other guest speakers. 

Bill Templeton, associate dean of undergraduate programs for LSB, said the experience will be different for this year’s graduates, but it will be nice to have the ceremony in person. 

“We would normally have a big reception for all the graduates after the ceremony,” Templeton said. “The faculty would come and we’d mingle. We were looking forward to doing that in our new building… but there won’t be a reception this year. Instead, we are just going to try and get at least this year’s class the opportunity to be awarded their degrees in person, so I think it’s something. I’m hoping the students appreciate that.” 

Another tradition for LSB is awarding an outstanding graduate from each major. This usually takes place at a reception in April. They will not have the reception as normal, but they will still recognize the students who receive the award. 

College of Education 

Sunday, May 9 at 10:00am 

A faculty member within the College of Education will be delivering an address at their ceremony. A committee made up of COE graduate students, undergraduate students, faculty and staff is reviewing the nominations and will choose the faculty member who gets to speak at the ceremony. 

Since COE will graduate both undergraduate and master’s students, they decided not to include a student speaker to help keep the ceremony within the allotted time window. They did not have time for two students and a faculty member to speak. 

Angela Mager, assistant dean and senior lecturer for COE, said they usually have a separate “celebration of graduates” event the Friday night before commencement. This year, they will not do a celebration of graduates and instead implement some of the elements of that event into the Sunday morning commencement ceremony. 

“One of those things is the hooding of our master’s candidates,” Mager said. “So normally we would do that on the Friday night before commencement, but it really is an academic tradition, and so it really should be part of the actual academic ceremony, and so we’re glad to be able to get to do that for our master’s candidates.” 

College of Liberal Arts and Sciences 

Sunday, May 9 at 2:00pm 

The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences will have one faculty speaker and one student speaker. Stuart Glennan, associate dean and philosophy professor for LAS, said they surveyed the graduating seniors in LAS to see who would want to speak and which faculty members they would want to speak. 

A committee of LAS students, faculty and staff will review the nominations and make the final decision. Student finalists will be asked to provide a draft of their remarks. 

Glennan said they are trying to make their event feel like a traditional commencement. He said it is a nice opportunity to have a shorter ceremony and focus on the individuals in each college. One disadvantage to this format is that students with double majors will not be able to participate in multiple ceremonies. 

“One thing that I should say I do regret is LAS has a fair number of students who have primary majors in another college and secondary majors in LAS, and we think of them as our students every bit as much as we think of the students who have primary majors in LAS, and so we’re sorry that we’re not going to be able to see them,” Glennan said. 

College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences 

Sunday, May 9 at 6:00pm 

The College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences will have its three class presidents speak at the commencement ceremony. The presidents usually speak at two COPHS events held the Friday night before commencement, the hooding ceremony and the celebration of graduates. 

These two events will be combined with the commencement ceremony on Sunday evening. Students will also be able to take the oath of their respective professions. 

Angela Ockerman, associate professor and assistant dean for student affairs for COPHS, said the key elements are going to be very similar to a traditional Butler ceremony. While some things may look different, she is happy all of the faculty and students can celebrate together one last time. 

“Change is always hard and Butler is an institution with a lot of traditions and, you know, you hate to deviate from some of your old favorites, but the fact that we can do this together when a lot of other universities and institutions have decided not do, and to do it safely, I think is a great tribute to Butler University,” Ockerman said.

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