LINCOLN — After hearing from unhappy students and their parents, University of Nebraska-Lincoln officials on Thursday announced that graduates will, after all, get to walk across the stage at Saturday's commencement ceremony at Memorial Stadium.
To minimize the time attendees have to spend outdoors in inclement weather, the ceremony will eliminate the formal processional, where graduating students come to the stage in a designated order to get their diplomas. That's a process that can take more than an hour.
Instead, graduates will come to the stage in no particular order and be presented with empty diploma covers when they shake hands with UNL officials and are photographed. They are to report to the Hawks Championship Center after the ceremony to pick up their actual diplomas.
“We understand the importance of family and friends seeing their loved ones be recognized on stage for their academic accomplishments,” Chancellor Harvey Perlman said. Saturday's commencement is apparently the first, and perhaps the only, time UNL commencement has been held in Memorial Stadium.
The stadium was chosen because the Devaney Center, the longtime site for commencement, is closed for repairs, the new arena in Lincoln's Haymarket area is not yet open, and no other Lincoln venue is large enough to accommodate approximately 1,700 graduates and their 14,000 guests.
The change comes after parents and students protested a decision announced Wednesday to eliminate the processional. With wet, cold weather in the forecast, UNL officials announced a plan, now canceled, for students to pick up their diplomas at the Hawks Center before the ceremony, without friends and family present.
The canceled plan called only for the students to be shown on the HuskerVision video screens as their degrees were conferred by college, and for them to depart the ceremony through the football team's Tunnel Walk.
If Saturday's weather forces the ceremony to be canceled, graduates will be asked to pick up their diplomas from the Hawks Center at staggered times designated by college.
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