Chancellor May responds to The California Aggie’s editorial voicing concerns about the 2020 commencement
To the Editor:
Re: “Students deserve a commencement that celebrates them, not a high-profile speaker” by the Editorial Board (editorial, Oct. 24):
With regard to your Oct. 24 editorial, one portion of the headline is worth repeating: “Students deserve a commencement that celebrates them.”
I couldn’t agree more.
UC Davis’ graduating students deserve the best possible commencement experience. They’ve earned it. Changes to 2020 Spring Commencement ceremonies were made with this in mind. We want to create a more meaningful, prestigious and memorable celebration for UC Davis students.
I was disheartened to read that The Aggie editors believe otherwise. I’d like to provide some insight about these decisions and answer the questions you raised.
Commencement ceremonies are one way that we recognize and celebrate students who have worked hard to earn a degree from UC Davis. Many hours are devoted to creating a commencement experience that students, their families and friends will enjoy and remember for many years to come.
We sought feedback from students when discussions about 2020 Spring Commencement first began. Students shared their input during the decision-making process. They’ve been involved with planning and have assisted with speaker selection.
Next year, instead of having seven smaller, college-specific undergraduate ceremonies, the university will hold three combined ceremonies, each with about 2,500 students. These larger events will celebrate all of UC Davis, rather than focusing on one particular college. In this way, we hope to inspire that which unites all UC Davis students — our Aggie pride.
Of course, departments and other constituencies will still be welcome to hold their own, more personal graduation celebrations.
You raised some specific questions about spring commencement and I’d like to provide the answers here.
1. Will students’ names still be read at the ceremonies? Yes. UC Davis commencements will include reading the name of each graduate as they walk across the stage. We will continue this time-honored tradition that recognizes the achievements of each individual.
2. Can students petition for more tickets? Yes, students may petition for additional tickets. However, these will be handled on a case-by-case basis and cannot be guaranteed. Each student will receive four tickets. In an effort to allow additional family and friends to take part in this special day, we will open the Pavilion with overflow seating and live-streaming of commencement ceremonies.
3. Can students with multiple majors pick the major they wish to walk with? Yes. Students who graduate with more than one major will have the option to choose.
UC Davis continues to grow and excel. We’re now home to about 39,000 students. College rankings consistently place UC Davis among the nation’s top public universities.
It’s true that larger UC Davis commencement ceremonies may help us to secure new and noteworthy speakers. While that’s not our primary goal, it’s a good thing. It gives us an opportunity to host the type of commencement celebration that students will cherish — and one you might expect from one of our nation’s top public universities.
UC Davis students deserve nothing less.
CHANCELLOR GARY S. MAY, DAVIS, CA
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