Lefton drops single commencement plan

Heather Scarlett

President Lester Lefton announces at the Faculty Senate meeting yesterday that he plans on reviewing the decision to move all graduation ceremonies to May. ELIZABETH MYERS | DAILY KENT STATER

Credit: John Proppe

President Lester Lefton announced his plan for a single yearly commencement will not be taking place.

“The one ceremony approach may not be the best step at this time,” Lefton said to Faculty Senate at yesterday’s meeting, citing a recent outpouring of negative responses and concerns.

The plan to move to a single commencement ceremony instead of the three commencement ceremonies that are currently held each year was proposed earlier this semester, and the first all-university commencement was planned to be held May 2008.

Preston Mitchum, undergraduate student senator of academic affairs, wasn’t a fan of the idea.

“As I understood it, I really didn’t like it,” Mitchum said.

Lefton said he initially asked for feedback and that much of that preliminary response was positive. But since the announcement, there had been a surge of complaints.

“I’m just wondering how many students he actually talked to,” Mitchum said.

One of the concerns students had been expressing was about the weather.

“May is a difficult month,” Lefton said.

The ceremony was supposed to be held in the outdoor Dix Stadium, no matter the weather.

Another concern was that students would possibly have to return from out of state, or even from out of the country.

Most international students come on student visas, which are given for a specific period of time, said Melissa Hughes, international student adviser for the Office of International Affairs. When the visa expires, they have to leave the country, which is typically in December.

“Many students value the graduation ceremony as a recognition of their hard work for so many years,” Hughes said. “A lot of students invite their parents to come – it might be a lot of parents’ first trips to the U.S., but it’s that important to them that they do come.”

The change could have affected any student, however.

“Most people are going to get jobs, and they’re not going to want to come back,” said sophomore business management and accounting major Dana Schreckengost.

The response from Lefton’s announced reversal seems positive.

“I’m really happy, honestly. I’m glad that the students’ voice could make a difference,” said Jeff Budrovic, senior exercise physiology major. “I’m pleased that he did listen. He could’ve just ignored us, but the heart and soul of Kent State is the student body, and we should definitely matter on any major decision such as changing the ceremony, because that day is for us.”

Budrovic plans to graduate in December 2007 and would have been affected by the proposed change.

Mitchum said students spend thousands of dollars on their educations, so they should have some say in the way they graduate.

“I have poured so much money and so much time, and I have really endured a lot of adversity through my college career, and for me to not get my rightful ceremony and my day of recognition? That would be a slap in the face,” Budrovic said. “It’s like they’re not recognizing the student body for all they’ve accomplished.”

In the future, Lefton possibly wants to address the issue by running a survey through the Student Senate to gauge student opinion, he said.

“Maybe (we will) take it up in a couple of years, but right now it is a distraction,” Lefton told the Senate.

Faculty Senate was also receptive to the reversal.

“I appreciate the fact that he was responding to the concerns expressed by students and families,” said Sen. Mary Stansbury. “I’m glad he was responsive.”

Another issue addressed at yesterday’s meeting was the new smoking ban. David Creamer, senior vice president of administration, announced that this Thursday the ban will be enforced at Kent State.

“It will reduce areas where students can smoke on campus,” he said. “Certain areas such as the Rathskeller will be eliminated past Thursday. Signs stating that people must be at least 20 feet away from building entrances will be posted.”

Creamer also said smoking will not be allowed in areas such as bus shelters.

Contact academic affairs reporter Heather Scarlett at [email protected].

Enterprise reporter Kate Bigam and news correspondent Jackie Valley also contributed to this story.