It was a memorable weekend, in many ways. Commencement is always an exciting time on campus as we celebrate our graduates and their many successes. This year was especially memorable because we did not hold the commencement ceremony on campus under the tent, as it was traditionally done in the past. We decided to move the event to the Blue Cross Arena in light of our experience last year with inclement weather forcing us to evacuate the tent and delaying the ceremony. We eventually returned to the tent, but after completion of the ceremony the high winds caused the tent to collapse. Fortunately, no one was injured.
The decision to break from tradition was not an easy one, but safety was our top concern. At the time we made the decision, we had no idea that this year we would have a repeat of bad weather and high winds.
The change was a break with tradition but at the same time created new and wonderful opportunities. Moving commencement to Sunday provided time on Saturday for events on the Nazareth College campus, and many participated in those events. More than 700 people attended Saturday’s beautiful Baccalaureate Service where students conducted a true interfaith service with readings, songs, and an extraordinary video, reminding us that everyone has a “place at the Nazareth table.”
After the Baccalaureate Service, for the first time, each of the four schools - Arts and Sciences, Health and Human Services, Education, and Management - held individual gatherings where family members could meet faculty and friends. In the evening we held our traditional Candlelight Service.
The indoor commencement ceremony on Sunday was everything we hoped it would be, and then some! We were able to include the entire Nazareth family—both undergraduate and graduate students—in one ceremony. The space was nicely decorated, more comfortable than the tent, and provided better opportunities to see and hear the ceremony. Students were not limited in the number of guests who could attend, and it was a joyful occasion.
Change is sometimes hard for institutions. We may have found, however, that sometimes circumstances produce the possibility of creating new traditions that in themselves become enduring.