The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

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Pitt baseball players stand in the dugout during a game against Virginia Tech on March 24 at the Petersen Sports Complex.
Pitt baseball shows promise in weekend series in Texas
By Dylan Grace, Staff Writer • 12:32 am

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Pitt baseball players stand in the dugout during a game against Virginia Tech on March 24 at the Petersen Sports Complex.
Pitt baseball shows promise in weekend series in Texas
By Dylan Grace, Staff Writer • 12:32 am

Pitt adds December commencement ceremony, students report mixed reactions

Pitt+adds+December+commencement+ceremony%2C+students+report+mixed+reactions
Annika Esseku | Contributing Editor

Dayquon Henderson feels excited to graduate in December, but was upset when Pitt first announced that students graduating a semester early would not be allowed to walk at the April ceremony. 

“I found out that I wouldn’t be able to walk at spring commencement because I was talking to a professor about graduation,” Henderson, a senior media and professional communications major, said. ”She was telling me that December graduates weren’t going to be allowed to walk in the spring because of the ticket issue last year.”

Pitt sent out an email in April 2023, about a week before commencement, stating that attendees must have tickets to enter the Petersen Events Center for graduation. Pitt allowed each graduate four tickets, while prior to the email, many graduates thought they could bring as many guests as they wanted. The announcement upset and frustrated many graduates. 

Starting this semester, Pitt will no longer hold one, university-wide commencement ceremony. The University will now hold two identical university-wide commencement ceremonies moving forward. One will be held every winter — for undergraduate and graduate students who will graduate at any time between May and December — and one every spring for undergraduate students who will graduate anytime between January and April, according to Pitt’s website.

Joe McCarthy, interim provost and senior vice chancellor, said since this is the first semester that this new policy takes effect, flexibility is valuable. As a one-time exception, students graduating in December may attend April commencement if they wish, according to McCarthy. 

“For this year, students graduating in December who wish to walk instead in Pitt’s April commencement are welcome to do so,” McCarthy said. “Please reach out to Special Events at: [email protected].”

McCarthy said Pitt made this change because “it feels important that we can celebrate our students’ accomplishments in a timely way. April can be a long time to wait — and so a December option feels appropriate.” 

McCarthy also acknowledged that because the December class size is smaller than the April class size, “it will be possible to provide more tickets to those celebrating with each graduate.” 

While Henderson would like to walk with his friends in spring commencement, he has a positive outlook about walking at the winter commencement.

“I do think that people who graduate should be able to participate in the spring commencement because we worked hard to graduate,” Henderson said. “For me though, I’m making it work. I want to make graduating my own because it’s a big accomplishment and I can still celebrate with my friends who are graduating in the spring.”

Braydan Issermoyer, a senior political science and psychology double major and SGB board member, found out about the new policy through a friend.

“I started reaching out to other people that I knew that were also graduating in the fall to gauge their opinion on it,” said Issermoyer. “I reached out to special events to try and get more information on when this happened.”

Issermoyer reached out to Sharon Malazich, associate director in the Office of Special Events. Malazich said in an email to Issermoyer that the plan to hold two identical university-wide ceremonies “has been in place since January 2023.”

“The commencement website has been updated with all information, and all advisors for all of the schools have been notified about the changes,” Malazich said. “Students both undergraduate and graduate, received a newsletter that contained information on this from the Provost / Vice Provost office. This is not a new plan or policy change, and it was not put together at the last minute.”

Chris Abraham, a senior finance and chemistry double major, is graduating this semester but plans to walk in the spring. 

“It was a little bit confusing at first, but so I checked in with the business student center and told them I was graduating in December but wanted to walk in the spring,” Abraham said. “They sent me a form to fill out, and then I was good to go.”

Abraham made plans to graduate this semester with the intention of pursuing his own interests outside of school before he starts working. 

“It was a shock to find out I might not have been able to walk at spring commencement,” Abraham said. “If I had to walk in December, I don’t know what I would have done. It was tough trying to map out in my mind how I could enjoy the experience of graduating alone rather than with my friends.”

Issermoyer feels that this new policy “isn’t necessarily a bad thing.”

“Because of how crowded commencement has been, this will allow students to bring more family and friends to commencement,” Issermoyer said. 

McCarthy said it is important to celebrate each graduate’s accomplishments while also navigating the challenge of exceeding the capacity of the Petersen Events Center.

“We are committed to celebrating each and every Pitt graduate — along with their families and friends—as they achieve their amazing and hard-won academic milestones,” McCarthy said.