When circumstances change, sometimes a little more pomp is in order. That’s the case this academic year at Wingate University, where a single annual commencement has been replaced with three separate ceremonies.
A December event honored fall graduates, and this month the University will hold two commencements: one for those receiving bachelor’s degrees and another for Wingate’s seven graduate programs. Provost Helen Tate said the distinct events will not only honor graduates but also better serve their families.
The May 11 Graduate Commencement, set for 6 p.m. on the Academic Quad, will include hoodings performed by administrators of each master’s or doctoral program. In the past, family members who wanted to see their graduates receive their academic regalia and their degree had to attend separate ceremonies, often on different days, forcing some to choose between the hooding or the graduation. This year, they can see it all at once, and be inspired by commencement speaker Maria Pharr, president of South Piedmont Community College.
Pharr, who holds a doctor of education degree, has had extensive experience in the state’s community college system, including leading BioNetwork and Life Science Initiatives, a workforce-development program designed to support the state’s bioscience industry. She will be addressing up to 153 graduates who have earned their doctoral degrees in education, pharmacy or physical therapy or their master’s in accounting, business administration, sport management or education.
The following morning, beginning at 9 a.m. on the Quad, the focus will turn to undergraduates and an address from North Carolina Attorney General and former state senator Josh Stein. Since taking his post on Jan. 1, 2017, Stein has made fighting the opioid crisis a top priority.
He’ll share a word of encouragement with roughly 330 bachelor’s degree candidates, who will also get to see six of their peers presented with awards recognizing their scholarship and leadership, a part of the ceremony that had been truncated in recent years because of time constraints.
“Having the two different ceremonies allows the undergrad ceremony to bring back the awards presentations,” Tate said. “In both ceremonies, we want students to know we’ve designed an experience for your commencement that we believe honors your experience at Wingate.”
No ticket is required to attend the commencement events. Seating is first-come, first-served, so graduates’ friends and families should arrive early. Parking is free and will not require a permit on that day.
Wingate, a comprehensive, independent and growing university, serves more than 3,600 students in North Carolina. Founded in 1896, the University offers 35 undergraduate majors as well as graduate and professional programs. Wingate is home to the Cannon College of Arts and Sciences, the Levine College of Health Sciences, the Byrum School of Business, the Thayer School of Education and the School of Sport Sciences. For news and videos, visit www.wingate.edu.