NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - Stephen F. Austin State University's steady growth has created an issue of space when it comes its biggest graduation, the spring commencement. Reality has set in. It's time for two graduation ceremonies.
"We really didn't want to because there is really something to be said about a full coliseum and the fun and ambiance of the whole celebration," Monique Cossich, SFA's executive director of enrollment management.
But graduation planners can't ignore the fact guests and the honorees are too close for comfort.
"People are standing," Cossich said. "Some people were standing outside because it was just too crowded to get in."
Approximately 700 graduates and their guests are expected at each graduation ceremony.
The idea of a 9:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. graduation ceremony sits well with senior Jessica Harrison.
"I have a large amount of people that are coming and that way they can sit where they want to," Harrison said. "There's a little bit more space for them, so I think that is good."
Other considerations included the economic impact the change would have on Nacogdoches when thousands of visitors come to town.
The discussion focuses on the effects it could have on local restaurants and hotels and motels. It's the desire that the split graduation will eliminate the rush on local restaurants and people will still spend the night Friday or Saturday."
Yet most SFA graduates are from East Texas, Houston, and Dallas. That's close enough for families to make it a one-day function. Local hotels will have to wait and see if cancellations start rolling in.
For now, the structure of future May graduations will be determined on a case-by-case basis according to the size of each graduating class.