Spring 2022 Universitywide commencement to remain at DKR, some colleges continuing with “graduation recognition moments” 

Abbie Bard, News Reporter

The University will host spring 2022 commencement at the Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium this spring instead of the South Mall for the second year in a row, and some colleges will again host “graduation recognition moments” in place of convocation ceremonies.

The Universitywide commencement ceremony has taken place on the South Mall in front of the Tower in the past. In 2021, students had “graduation recognition moments” instead of traditional convocations. Most schools will go back to the traditional commencement style this spring, but seniors graduating from the Moody College of Communication, the Cockrell School of Engineering and some degree programs in the College of Liberal Arts will continue with GRMs. In GRMs, students can sign up for five or 30-minute time slots to shake hands with the Dean and walk across the stage, according to Barrett Senn, administrative director of the student-led Moody Communication Council.

Some seniors say they do not support the changes because they feel they are losing an important part of the college experience. Political communication senior Cat Mouer said the new graduation recognition moments are more brief and less community-based than typical graduation ceremonies in which students sit together and watch one another receive their diplomas.

“You go with your family and friends, whoever your guests are,” Mauer said. “You walk across the stage in the Alumni Center, shake hands with the Dean, get your diploma and they announce your name, supposedly. And then you’re done.”

Mouer said many students in the Moody graduating class were talking about the potential change before any official announcements from Moody Dean Jay Bernhardt.

“I heard about the change for Moody from other students,” Mauer said. “So I went and looked it up on the (commencement) website which confirmed exactly what they said, but in vague terms.”

Biomedical engineering senior Nicole Swingle said she had a similar experience when she discovered the change for Cockrell.

“I actually really only found out a couple weeks ago,” Swingle said. “I feel like it’s been kept under wraps. I think it’s not a secret but it just feels like they withheld this information until it seemed too late to change anything.”

Senn said the council created and sent out a survey to gauge Moody students’ opinion on GRMs versus a traditional convocation.

“I think we got around 400 responses on that survey, and it was somewhere between 90-95% of people would have preferred traditional commencement to these graduation recognition moments,” Senn said. “So once we got that feedback, we took it to the Deans and kind of told them how everybody was feeling.”

Bernhardt released an official poll to graduating seniors after receiving the first survey’s feedback. The poll gave the option of graduation recognition moments for Friday, May 20, or a traditional convocation Thursday, May 19. 

The poll results showed that most graduating students prefer the original ceremony option over the convocation-style ceremony held one day earlier,” Bernhardt said in a statement March 23. “Our ceremony will include many elements of a traditional convocation, including speeches, music, and the chance to walk the stage and be congratulated while hearing your name read aloud.”

The statement also said new traditions will be added to the ceremonies, such as a champagne toast and photo walk.

The Student Engineering Council sent out a student survey as well, though those results were not shared with The Daily Texan. The Cockrell School of Engineering did not respond to multiple requests for comments.