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Seniors prepare for Commencement ceremonies

Seniors prepare for Commencement ceremonies

On May 18, the Stevenson University undergraduate class of 2017 will be graduating and getting ready to start the next chapter of their lives.

Commencements will take place at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. in the Greenspring campus gymnasium. At 10 a.m. the Brown School of Business and Leadership, the Sandra R. Berman School of Nursing and Health Professions and the Beverly K. Fine School of the Sciences, will graduate. The School of Design, the School of Education, and the School of Humanities and Social Sciences will graduate at 3 p.m.

Deborah Phelps will be the 2017 keynote speaker for the undergraduate ceremonies (Photo from LinkedIn).

Maryland native, Deborah Phelps, will be the guest speaker for both commencement ceremonies. Phelps is the executive director of the Education Foundation of the Baltimore County Public Schools. She is also the mother of Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps.

The commencement speaker search committee thought Phelps was the perfect choice for a speaker because four years ago she gave the convocation speech welcoming the students from the class who is now graduating, said Sue Kenney, vice president and chief of staff at Stevenson University.

“I am excited for her to be the speaker, and I am looking forward to hearing what she has to say. It is nice to have someone with experience in the education system and is native to Maryland,” said Mackenzie Weider, a graduating senior.

Another graduating senior, Katlyn Lamp, said, “I’m very excited to have Debbie Phelps as our commencement speaker this year. It will be nice to hear about her experience out in the real world, and I believe that she will leave us seniors with some great advice as we head out into the world as well.”

Choosing the commencement speaker is a long process that starts at the beginning of the school year. During the first week of September, graduating students and faculty receive a survey that is to be returned by Oct. 8, according to Kenney. There are three things that the committee considers when selecting a commencement speaker: availability on the day of graduation, agreeing to speak twice in one day and affordability.

The speaker selection process includes the work of a committee of 13 people, including the vice president and chief of staff, the executive vice president of academic affairs and provost, the assistant vice president of student activities, the assistant vice president of university advancement, one full-time faculty member, one part-time faculty member and one graduating senior.

Once the committee receives the returned surveys, the suggestions are collated into a master list. From that list, the committee selects the top five speaker options. When choosing, it is also helpful to have a personal or professional connection to the speaker, according to Kenney.

Undergraduate seniors will receive their diplomas on May 18 (Villager File Photo).

Before the selection of Phelps, there were heated debates on the Stevenson University Class of 2017 Facebook group. Students were fighting over whom to suggest as a commencement speaker. One student wrote, “Who wants Michelle Obama to speak at our graduation?” However, not everyone agreed with this suggestion. Another comment read, “How about we keep politics out of this graduation?”, which led to another debate. This Facebook group included many different suggestions, but ultimately the choice of the speaker is up to the selection committee and the president’s office.

Not only has there been controversy over the commencement speaker, but students have expressed unhappiness with the number of tickets they will receive for ceremony guests. According to a comment in the Facebook group, people have been confused about the number of tickets each student will receive. However, for the ceremony, each graduating senior will receive five tickets for their guests. Graduates-to-be are closely monitoring the Facebook group, hoping someone is willing to give up one or some of their tickets. For those unable to attend the ceremonies, this year’s commencement ceremony will be streamed live online, as well.

According to the Registrar’s website, “Doors to the gym will open one hour before the start of the ceremony. Seating areas are not assigned, and are occupied on a first-come, first-served basis. Overflow seating will be available in the Inscape Theatre where the ceremony will be broadcast live on the big screen. Overflow seating is available on a first-come first-served basis.”

Students should report to Knott Hall 101 45 minutes prior to their specified graduation time. There, they will pick up their name cards and line up. Name cards are given to the dean of the school as each student crosses the stage.

Professional photographers will take individual pictures before the ceremony near KH 101. Photos will also be taken during the ceremony including an action shot while receiving the diploma on stage and a posed shot after receiving the diploma and exiting the stage, according to the Registrar’s website. Ordering information is available at

Interim President Claire Moore will preside over the Commencement ceremonies (Photo from SU Flickr).

To celebrate graduation week, the school has planned several activities for the graduating class. There is a trip to the National Aquarium on May 12 and laser tag will take place on May 13. On May 14, the students enjoy a trip to Kings Dominion from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. A cookout on the Quad is planned for May 16 from 9 p.m. to 12 a.m. Lastly, there are Senior Service Projects scheduled for May 12 and May 17.

The traditional Baccalaureate ceremony, a student-planned event, will take place at 7 p.m. in the Greenspring gymnasium on Monday, May 15. All graduates are invited to attend along with their families, no tickets are needed and a reception will follow. Undergraduate students should wear their gowns, but not their hoods.

The Nurses’ Pinning ceremony will be held on May 16 at 7 p.m. in the Greenspring gymnasium.

Graduate students will receive their diplomas and hoods on May 17 during their Commencement ceremony in the Greenspring gymnasium.

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Seniors prepare for Commencement ceremonies