University-wide commencement tradition to begin in May

Dec. 8, 2014

Dear UNT community,

Taking part in graduation is one of my favorite things about being a university president. Graduating from college is a defining moment in a person's life — the achievement of a long-held dream and the start of a bright future filled with opportunity. It's a huge honor to be a part of this life-changing moment for the more than 8,500 students who graduate from UNT each year and to share in the pride of their family and friends. It reminds me how powerful and transformative a college education is for students and their families and friends.

To mark the occasion with the grandeur and fanfare it deserves, we're changing commencement so that graduates can celebrate their successes and transition from being students to alumni with the entire UNT community. Starting in May 2015, UNT will hold a university-wide commencement every May at Apogee Stadium for all graduates who earn their degree in the current academic year. Our inaugural university-wide commencement will be held May 16, 2015, kicking off a new tradition and celebrating UNT’s 125th anniversary. This is a much-needed step forward for a university that is growing in size, quality and reputation.

The university-wide commencement will be more festive and more memorable, featuring a nationally prominent speaker, degree conferral and celebrations before the event. During commencement, graduates will be seated together based on the degree they will earn (bachelor's, master's or doctoral) rather than by college so they can celebrate this important milestone with friends.

In moving to this new format, we don't want to lose the intimacy and important moments that make graduation special for many graduates and their families. Throughout the same weekend, colleges will host recognition ceremonies during which graduates will hear their name called, walk across the stage and shake hands with their college dean. The university-wide commencement will be the formal, official graduation event, and we encourage graduates to attend both.

We will hold college recognition ceremonies twice a year in May and December. We will no longer hold August commencement and those who expect to graduate in the summer can participate in May or December ceremonies, depending on how close they are to graduating.

These changes will not impact December 2014 ceremonies. Commencement ceremonies are set for Dec. 12-13, and will proceed as usual.

You likely still have questions about these changes so I encourage you to read the Commencement Changes FAQs to learn more. Many details are still being finalized and we will post information as it's available.

This is the start of a new commencement tradition that will help us honor the most important milestone in our students' journey as a university community while preserving the special moments that make graduation meaningful. I hope that this new tradition gives our graduates plenty of new memories and strengthens their bonds to their alma mater.

UNT proud,

Neal Smatresk,