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1 day until spring Commencement

A behind-the-scenes look at the main event, and a spotlight on some of our outstanding graduates.

By Lindsey Coulter

May 16, 2019

MSU Denver graduates celebratingPlease join the entire Metropolitan State University of Denver community Friday to applaud our outstanding spring graduates!

Commencement ceremonies are the pinnacle of the MSU Denver experience for students — and for many faculty and staff members as well. The ceremonies are also massive undertakings, with dozens of moving parts and hundreds of hands necessary to ensure success. The Early Bird chatted with University Events and Protocol Specialist Cora Potter to learn what it takes to make the biannual celebrations seem effortless.

Potter, a 2017 MSU Denver graduate, started with a surprising fact: The first Commencement planning step takes place up to four years in advance, when MSU Denver signs venue contracts.

“I also reserve venues for cap-and-gown pickup and marshal orientations a semester in advance, so those locations have already been secured for fall Commencement 2019 needs,” Potter explained.

There are only a few weeks of downtime after fall Commencement before the Commencement Committee begins spring preparations (and vice versa). Work includes selecting a Commencement speaker, recruiting marshals, assigning dozens of volunteer roles and adhering to University protocol.

The process is similar for staff in the Office of the Registrar. Students generally apply for graduation more than a semester in advance, as applications for fall Commencement are due in June. The Registrar’s Office spends hours ensuring that petitioning students have met the graduation requirements and can receive their diplomas.

“It’s really a Universitywide effort,” Potter said, adding that staff from Alumni Relations; Strategy, Marketing and Communications; the Registrar; the Access Center; the Auraria Higher Education Center; Board of Trustees members; and dozens of faculty and staff are all involved in the process.

Potter also said Roadrunners enjoy a more personal Commencement experience than graduates at most other large universities.

“At many other institutions, graduates within the same school stand in unison to be recognized, but we read every name aloud and project it on the screen,” Potter said. “It’s more work behind the scenes, but it’s much more special. Sometimes I get caught up in the stress of planning it, but once I’m at Commencement and feeling that energy, I remember why we are here: to see our students reach that final milestone.”

Commencement by the numbers

3: The number of backup plans Potter and the Commencement Committee develop to cover all the what-ifs.

20: The average number of local vendors MSU Denver works with to deliver a typical Commencement celebration.

40: The average number of department chairs who participate in each Commencement ceremony.

100: The ideal number of volunteers for each Commencement ceremony.

1,400: The average number of graduates who attend fall Commencement ceremonies.

1,800: The average number of graduates who attend spring Commencement ceremonies.

7,000: The average attendance at a Commencement celebration.

Read more about our amazing graduates in RED

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A Displaced Aurarian scholar hopes to fulfill her dream of business ownership with 7-Eleven.

Becoming Ted

Saya "Ted" Richthofen turned his personal struggles into a passion for making the Auraria Campus a more welcoming place. Next up: the world.

Topics: Events

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