Considering commencement changes

By Mike Sandula

In an April interview with The Oakland Post, Oakland University President Gary Russi said OU will be changing its commencement ceremonies before the next graduates walk, but options were being considered.

“We’re outgrowing our commencements,” Russi said.

The university has yet to make official changes, but one proposal has been identified.

A recent e-mail sent by Stephanie Lee, OU’s commencement coordinator, to upper leadership stated, “As previously approved by the deans, we will be conducting two commencement ceremonies for undergraduates in May 2010 and the Masters and Ph.D.’s ceremonies will become the responsibility of the [deans of each individual college].”

In the e-mail, Lee wrote that the deans could hold their own graduate ceremony or co-host with other colleges. The e-mail read that OU would assist in the planning of such ceremonies, provide the venue — either the O’Rena or the Meadow Brook Festival Grounds — and commencement programs, but if the colleges do something else, they would “be responsible for the expenses.”    

The e-mail also read “these changes are necessary due to the growth of graduates” and would make the graduate ceremonies “very special for both student and their families.”

However, Lee later said that the e-mail was only a proposal that had not been approved, and OU is still researching different commencement options.

She said she has limited the choices to two options: different ceremonies for graduates and undergraduates or different ceremonies for each school, the same options Russi discussed in April.

Lee also said that she has received an equal amount of positive and negative reactions for the proposal.

Dave Groves, assistant director of media relations at OU, wrote in an e-mail, “While administrators are considering this issue, there have been no changes made to policy or to commencement exercise practices.”