Commencement 2014: University prepares for one of its largest undergraduate commencement ceremonies

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University working with fire, public safety officials to ensure safety

KINGSTON, R.I. – April 22, 2014 – To prepare for the big day next month when The University of Rhode Island bids farewell to more than 3,000 graduating seniors, the University has formalized plans to ensure that the ceremonies will be safe, smooth and enjoyable for the large number of guests expected.

On Sunday, May 18, from about 8:30 a.m. until after 5 p.m., about 20,000 students, parents, family members, faculty, staff, dignitaries and more are expected to gather at various locations on the Kingston Campus to attend one or more of the commencement activities planned. The day includes the University-wide, main ceremony on the Quadrangle at 12:30 p.m. and the individual ceremonies for each of the eight academic colleges — four held in the morning and four in the afternoon at different indoor locations.

To ensure the safety of all participants, tickets are required for everyone attending the undergraduate college ceremonies that are all held indoors. Based on requirements from the State of Rhode Island Fire Marshal’s Office, the University chose to adopt a ticketing system to ensure that each facility does not exceed its legal seating capacity. Students will also receive two guest rain tickets for entry into the main Commencement Ceremony that would be held in the Ryan Center in the event of rain.

This will be the first time tickets are required for these ceremonies. The tickets are time- and- location-specific and will be provided to each graduating senior by their college dean’s office. Although tickets are required for admittance, guests will be seated on a first-come, first-served basis.

Based on the Fire Marshal’s requirements and best practices for such large-scale events, the University’s public programming, public safety, facilities services, college deans, and other offices have worked closely to develop plans for all seating and staging in each commencement venue.

The number of tickets provided to each student has been determined based on the number of graduates in each of the colleges and the seating capacity of each ceremony location.
Public Safety

Bags larger than 1 cubic foot (12” x 12” x12”) will not be permitted unless there is a medical or childcare related reason; in such cases they may be subject to additional security. People with these special needs should plan on arriving early to accommodate any potential delay. Best practice is to leave all bags in your car(s).

Commencement Day Schedule

Morning College Ceremonies, 9 a.m. – 11: 30 a.m.

• College of Continuing Education, Fine Arts Center, Park: Fine Arts Lot

• College of Engineering, Keaney Gymnasium, Park: Boss Arena Lot

• College of Human Science & Services, Mackal Field House, Park: Plains Road Lot

• College of Nursing, Ryan Center, Park: Plains Road Lot

University Ceremony, Main Quad, Noon – 1:30 p.m.

Note: The University Ceremony is also livecast into College ceremony sites

Afternoon College Ceremonies, 2 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.

• College of Arts and Sciences, Quadrangle (or the Ryan Center if rain), Park: Fine Arts Center or Plains Road Lot

• College of Business Administration, Keaney Gymnasium, Park: Plains Road Lot

• College of the Environment and Life Sciences, Mackal Field House, Park: Boss Arena or Plains Road Lot

• College of Pharmacy, Edwards Hall, Park: Fine Arts Center Lot

Students cross the stage and actually receive their diplomas at the individual College ceremonies listed above. The noontime University ceremony includes remarks by the president and presentation of honorary degrees.

Families wishing to remain at the individual College ceremony sites for the entire day are advised that following the morning ceremonies, all buildings will be closed for safety purposes. Additionally, buildings will be closed following the University ceremony on the main Quad, again for safety purposes and to prepare for the afternoon College ceremonies.

Guests are invited to gather nearby the College ceremony sites during the brief interludes between the ceremonies.

Commencement Rain Plan

In the event of rain, the Ryan Center is the largest venue to accommodate the more than 3,000 undergraduates and some of their guests for the 90-minute main ceremony, at which commencement speeches and honorary degrees are presented.

The main ceremony will be streamed live on large screens at five satellite viewing locations (Edwards Hall, Keaney Gymnasium, Mackal Field House, Fine Arts Center Recital Hall, and Memorial Union Ballroom, Atriums and Ram’s Den).

All details about commencement are available online at:, where guests may also register to receive related SMS updates.