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Notre Dame plans 174th commencement ceremony

| Friday, May 17, 2019

Notre Dame’s graduating class of 2019 will receive their degrees Sunday at the University of Notre Dame’s 174th commencement ceremony. The weekend includes graduation ceremonies from different schools and programs, events recognizing the work of students in dozens of departments and four student and guest speakers.

“We have 2,045 undergraduate degrees and 1,122 graduate degrees being awarded this weekend,” University registrar Chuck Hurley said.

Hurley said this will be the 10th year where commencement will be held in Notre Dame Stadium. The stadium has a higher capacity than the Joyce Athletic and Convocation Center, the venue that hosted the commencement ceremony until 2009.

“We’ve been at this format for many years now,” Hurley said. “Saturday night Mass, Sunday morning University ceremony in the stadium and about 19 diploma ceremonies. We have close to 100 events between Wednesday and Sunday here on campus.”

Hurley also said some newer facilities will host the smaller graduation ceremonies, which has made the weekend run more smoothly.

“The Dahnke Ballroom, the Smith Gymnasium in Duncan Student Center — these facilities have helped us out because they have higher capacity than the locations we were utilizing in the past,” he said. “This will be the third year that the University has used the Campus Crossroads buildings for commencement weekend.”

The keynote speaker for Sunday’s graduation ceremony is Peggy Noonan, New York Times best-selling author and a former speechwriter for President Ronald Regan. Hurley said event preparation can be different for different speakers.

“The only time it really changes for the ceremony is if we have secret service for years where we have presidents or vice presidents come to speak,” he said.

Guest speakers requiring additional security in past years have included Vice President Mike Pence and former President Barack Obama as well as bishops and cardinals from the Catholic Church.

Hosting the families of all the graduates poses its own unique challenges each year, Hurley said. Though the campus often experiences heavy traffic for football games, Hurley said the University undergoes special preparations for this weekend.

“We typically have about 30,000 people in the stadium for commencement,” he said. “Game day operations go through many of the same protocols that they would go through for a home football game where they’re checking bags and tickets  things like that. One challenge that’s a little bit different is the crowd that we actually have in attendance. Those visiting for commencement tend to be a little bit older. Many people bring grandparents and other relatives to the ceremony. We accommodate people will mobility impairments, which we have at football games but definitely in higher numbers at commencement.”

Hurley said the University has received over 2,700 RSVPs for Sunday’s graduation ceremony. The procession into stadium begins at 9:30 a.m., and the event is expected to begin at 10 a.m.

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