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  • Alyssa Brennan

Behind the scenes: The ins and outs of commencement weekend at CCU

On Friday, May 10, the class of 2019 will become graduates of Coastal Carolina University, but before that can happen over 20 departments had to come together to put all the details and plans into motion for each individual ceremony.

Elizabeth Leljedal from the Office of Special Events gave insight into how the ball gets rolling.

“The committee involved in the planning of commencement has the same goal in mind: to make each ceremony safe, special, and enjoyable for every attendee. All decisions are based on our common goal and are regularly made after discussions that take place in our monthly commencement meetings,” she said.

Many people play a huge role in making the ceremony possible. Every department is responsible for their part and it all gets put together in the end.

“Each department typically prepares their contribution for the “day of” individually. To name a few: Ticketing and Patron Services makes sure the entire commencement ticketing process is seamless from claiming to scanning. University Event and Production Services and Facilities plans, coordinates, and handles the physical set up,” Leljadel said.

“The Office of the Registrar processes graduation applications and organizes everything necessary for graduate line-up. The CCU Bookstore facilitates the regalia purchasing process. Transportation coordinates shuttle and golf cart drivers. The list goes on. Commencement truly wouldn’t be the same without the key contributions of each of these departments.”

Leljedal gave her opinion on what the best part of preparation is.

“The best part is knowing that it will be a day graduates and their guests won’t soon forget. It is such a special day for everyone involved. Each ceremony is slightly different, and it’s exciting to be able to contribute to such a memorable day,” she said.

While it’s an exciting process, there are still struggles to overcome.

“Fortunately, our eligible 2019 May graduates are able to claim six tickets. Unfortunately, the biggest challenge is we can’t always offer more tickets. We know this is such an important day for graduates and guests. The best way we have been able to combat this challenge is hosting a Live Stream in the Wheelwright Auditorium. This allows guests without tickets to watch the ceremony live and on campus,” Leljedal said.

Senior Administrative Coordinator from the Office of the President, Jennifer Packard gives insight into how a commencement speaker is chosen.

“The commencement speaker is primarily selected from a list of recommendations from the faculty’s Honorary Degrees and Award Committee. The committee is working to get ahead of the curve to identify and confirm speakers, ideally having them in place a year in advance, with a tentative backup speaker,” she said.

“But we cannot always account for unknown or unexpected factors. For example, this past December, the keynote speaker confirmed and then he had to withdraw for medical reasons. The next person who was identified to speak was also unable to accept due to existing family plans.”

There are also online resources for more information.

“The commencement website is a wealth of knowledge for all future graduates and their guests. We have also recently started a commencement Facebook page for announcements, deadlines, reminders, and easy communication,” Leljdal said.

Eligible graduates to be at Gate 3 of the HTC Center no later than an hour before their ceremony.

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