University of Delaware

Commencement change

UD to discontinue Winter Commencement


11:05 a.m., March 5, 2014--After careful deliberation and in response to declining attendance figures over the past few years, the University of Delaware has made the decision to discontinue Winter Commencement. Less than 22 percent of the eligible students participated in this year's ceremony on Jan. 12.

Held in early January since 1984, Winter Commencement has recognized students who complete their degree requirements during the summer or at the conclusion of the fall semester. These students are also eligible to participate in the main Commencement exercises, held at the conclusion of the academic year each May. 

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"We've seen a consistent pattern of a low number of students coming to this ceremony over the last several years," Vice President and University Secretary Jeff Garland said. "This year, there were approximately 350 students in attendance, out of more than 1,620 eligible to be there.

"Our students work hard to complete their degrees, and, as we welcome them into our alumni family, we want to ensure that the occasion is meaningful and important for them. This decision will allow us to take the monetary and staff resources needed for the poorly attended winter event and use them to our best advantage at the larger May ceremony.  

"In tandem with this decision, we are evaluating Spring Commencement to see how we can make it a more memorable and celebratory experience for our students and their families."

Historically, students who have been near completion of their degrees have been permitted to march in the May event. That practice will continue, with individual decisions made by the deans of the individual student's college. 

The decision to discontinue Winter Commencement has been reviewed with senior University leadership, the deans of the colleges and representatives of the Student Government Association and the Graduate Student Government. 

The University will continue to officially confer degrees four times a year — after fall and spring semesters and winter and summer sessions, and diplomas will be mailed 4-6 weeks after the conferral date. No matter when the requirements are completed, students will be eligible to participate within that academic year’s spring ceremony.

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