University Registrar discusses plans for Commencement weekend
Sunday, May 21 will mark the 172nd Notre Dame Commencement ceremony, where approximately 3,000 graduates will be presented with their degrees from the University. The Commencement ceremony will take place in Notre Dame Stadium and serve as the culmination of senior week, as well as the class of 2017’s time at Notre Dame.
While the ceremony officially starts at 9 a.m., University registrar Chuck Hurley said he recommends people arrive shortly after the stadium opens at 7 a.m., especially given the extra security measures that will be in place due to the presence of Vice President Mike Pence at the ceremony.
“We have to open up on Saturday morning about half an hour earlier than we normally do,” Hurley said. “In 2001 when President Bush came, and in 2009 when President Obama came to Commencement … we had a number of folks who showed up at the last minute and thought they could just walk right in. In years where you have a President or Vice President, that’s just not the case. … You have to go through the magnetometers that the Secret Service has. It takes longer to get folks in.”
In the case of severe weather, the Commencement ceremony will take place in Purcell Pavilion. As a result, each graduate would only receive three tickets to Commencement due to the smaller size of the venue.
If this venue change becomes necessary, overflow locations will be available for additional guests in Compton Family Ice Arena, Jordan Hall of Science, DeBartolo Hall or the north dome of the Joyce Center. Hurley said Commencement will also be live-streamed for those who would prefer to watch the ceremony remotely.
For the most part, Hurley said, the Campus Crossroads Project construction will not affect the ceremony itself.
“There’s some areas they block off, and they’ll put fencing around things because certain areas of the facility are constructions zones,” he said. “ … But it’s important to remember, the stage is on the field and the students are on the field, so that doesn’t really change at all because there’s no work being done on the field itself.”
Aside from the main Commencement ceremony, almost 100 other events relating to Commencement take place between Wednesday and Sunday, which include “everything from honor society functions to dinners,” Hurley said. Nineteen of the ceremonies are diploma ceremonies for programs and colleges within the University.
Hurley said his favorite part of the weekend is the mass at 5 p.m. on Saturday evening in Purcell Pavilion. He said 11,000 to 12,000 people typically attend the event.
“The Holy Cross priests do a wonderful job with the mass,” Hurley said. “It is a beautiful event, and it is really a culmination. All of our first-year students during orientation weekend come in and are in Purcell Pavilion together for opening orientation, and then four years later one of the last things they do is go to mass [on] Saturday night of Commencement weekend.”
Planning for Commencement starts in October, Hurley said, and continues throughout the year, up until Commencement weekend in May.
“It’s an event-filled several days for us where we only get to go home for a few hours at night and come back at four in the morning to get going,” he said. “There’s a lot of people who bring relatives to campus for that weekend. We want them to have a wonderful experience. … It really is a massive endeavor.”