The annual commencement ceremony for Grand Rapids Community College graduates is being moved this year from Van Andel Arena to the GRCC Ford Fieldhouse.
The college will save around $50,000 with the location change.
“We’ve held commencement on campus before, before we switched for the 100th anniversary,” said GRCC Dean of Student Affairs Tina Hoxie. Commencement was held at the arena for the past two years.
In 2015, the college spent about $97,000 for the 100th anniversary commencement at the Van Andel Arena. In 2016, the cost of commencement was $81,244.
This year, with commencement at the Fieldhouse, the college will spend $30,384. Hoxie said this is before factoring in the cost of labor, which she does not know yet.
“There’s more cost in the Van Andel facility,” Hoxie said. “The downside is that we’re in a ticketing circumstance with students.”
The change involves limited seating, meaning that graduating students will be allotted five tickets for friends and family members, rather than the unlimited seating that was available at the arena. Hoxie said students will not be able to purchase additional tickets.
The reason for the change is Grand Valley State University’s lease on the space. GVSU has a 10-year agreement with the Van Andel Arena to reserve space for that Friday and Saturday every year. For the past couple years, GVSU has given up that Friday space because they didn’t need it. This year, they will be having three graduations, one on Friday and two on Saturday, therefore, the space is reserved.
“We weren’t able to work out a reduced exam schedule in partnering with faculty, because there was a concern that it would condense it too much into three days versus four days for a student,” Hoxie said.
This year will be GRCC President Steven Ender’s last commencement as president of the college. While he was pushing for graduation at the arena, he said he is “fine” with celebrating at the Fieldhouse.
“I’m disappointed that we will not be able to accommodate everybody that we would at Van Andel Arena,” Ender said. “We’ve grown out of the Fieldhouse.”
Both graduates from workforce development and arts and sciences will participate in this year’s commencement ceremony.
“I just want to encourage students … to fill out your graduation application, go to the commencement website, all the information’s there,” Hoxie said. “There will not be a rehearsal time, but it really isn’t needed … Everyone’s here to help the students and it goes really smoothly.”
Hoxie encouraged students to “really take advantage of this opportunity to celebrate with their significant family members on this academic milestone because students work really hard to get here.”
GRCC’s commencement will take place at 7 p.m. April 28 at the Fieldhouse, 111 Lyon St NE.
Students expecting to graduate are encouraged to attend Grad Fest 2017, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. April 6 in rooms 118-124 in the Applied Technology Center. At this event students can purchase their caps, gowns and tassels and finalize details before graduation.