University administration plans Commencement Ceremony
Rachel O'Grady | Friday, May 13, 2016
Now in its seventh consecutive year in Notre Dame Stadium, the 171st Commencement Ceremony will be celebrated Sunday, followed by 19 separate graduation ceremonies throughout the day.
University Registrar Chuck Hurley said he encourages graduates and their guests to show up early to this year’s event, due to the attendance of Vice President Joe Biden and former Speaker of the House John Boehner.
“With the Vice President coming, that’s a different challenge for us than in a normal year — but on the other hand, we’ve had this happen a number of times in Notre Dame’s history,” Hurley said. “During my tenure, this has been the third time we’ve had a President or Vice President come. We have some people on our staff that have done it five times.”
However, while the security measures complicate the planning, Hurley said it is an enjoyable challenge.
“It’s very neat. The Secret Service protection adds a layer there that’s different than a normal year, so to speak, so getting people in and out of the facility takes a little bit longer, because the Secret Service has to check everyone through an airport security-type checkpoint,” he said.
All bags will be checked, and liquids will be prohibited, amongst other items. In the past, the Secret Service has been helpful in ensuring the safety of everyone at graduation, Hurley said.
“We’re spending quite a lot of time collaborating with the Secret Service,” he said. “They’ve been great to work with — they’re extremely professional.”
Despite some initial controversy over the location of last year’s Commencement Ceremony, Hurley said the University plans to continue to use Notre Dame Stadium for graduation in years to come.
“In the 1950s and 1960s, they had graduation in the stadium as well, for a few years, until they built the Joyce Center,” he said. “We went back in 2010 to the stadium, and that’s worked out well.”
However, Hurley said the use of the stadium is heavily reliant on the weather.
“When you hold an outdoor event of any kind, you’re subject to Mother Nature,” he said. “Indiana has quite an unusual weather pattern — this time of year, we’ve seen 80 degree, humid, hot days, but we’ve also seen snow. Take, for example, a few weeks ago, when we had that snowstorm on Saturday — that came out of the blue.”
Since the University knows anything can happen with the weather, they have alternative measures in place, Hurley said.
“We’ve got the University weather person, and we pay close attention to what he says, but we stick to the stadium the best we can,” he said. “There’s always the possibility, however, that we could move into Purcell Pavilion.”
A move indoors would affect the number of guests a graduate could bring to the ceremony, according to Hurley.
“We have unlimited tickets for the stadium,” he said. “Students can request as many as they wish. About two years ago, we had a young lady who was the first person in her family to graduate college and she brought 90 guests, and that was great.
“But when we give students their tickets, we give them a stadium ticket, and then students also receive three severe weather tickets.”
However, Hurley said in case of severe weather, alternative viewing locations will be opened around campus.
“Folks will be able to go to DeBartolo Hall or Jordan Hall or Compton, or the north part of the Joyce Center, so they can watch it there,” he said. “Or, if they wanted to, they could watch it in their hotel room on an iPad, because it’s streamed.”