STATESBORO, Ga. (WTOC) - Thousands of Georgia Southern University graduates walked across different stages this year to finish their college years and get their diplomas.
What was supposed to be a happy time turned to frustration for many graduates and families due to changes in commencement. The university is now sharing some of the feedback those graduates gave them.
The new vice president who has come to the university with new president, Dr. Kyle Marrero, says the people who weren’t happy didn’t sugarcoat what they thought of the “new” commencement.
The university held nine ceremonies in two cities within a period of 36 hours. Leading into the weekend, Dr. Marrero asked students and their guests for feedback. More than 2,000 responded. According to the university, 96 percent of the surveys reported a negative experience.
“Capacity issues with some of the venues were some of the pieces that people were concerned about, and certainly, that concerns us too,” said Dr. Scot Lingrell, V.P. Enrollment Manager.
Since Georgia Southern and Armstrong State consolidated, this was the first commencement to combine graduates from different campuses and split up ceremonies by fields of study. Forty percent of the survey feedback came from graduating students - another 25 from family members. Many noted parking or seating issues at venues. Others didn’t like simultaneous ceremonies in Savannah and Statesboro that split up some families to see loved ones march. Many of the surveyors want to see a return to the combined ceremony at Paulson Stadium with enough space to hold everyone.
“Everybody has their version of what we should be doing, but we’re going to attempt to make everybody happy coming out of these ceremonies, because this is a culminating moment in a person’s life,” Lingrell said.
Lingrell says they’ve already identified some details that they’ll change for December, but he did not want to elaborate until they have an exact plan in place. He says they’re already working seven months out to find a better system. He says the ceremonies at the Convention Center in Savannah and Hanner Fieldhouse each had their respective challenges. They did not use Paulson Stadium for any of the individual commencements, though that may be an option, in addition to the overall university-wide celebration.
You can read the entire preliminary report from Georgia Southern below: