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Point Park Globe

Point Park University's Student-Run Newspaper

Point Park Globe

Point Park University's Student-Run Newspaper

Point Park Globe

Spring graduation date moved due to “unforeseen circumstances”

Photo by Evan Levine
Outside PPG Paints Arena, where the Pittsburgh Penguins play.

As announced in an email last Wednesday, this year’s undergraduate commencement and graduate hooding ceremonies will no longer be on Saturday, Apr. 27.


Due to “unforeseen circumstances” and “unavoidable conflicts” with PPG Paints Arena, ceremonies will be moved to Friday, April 26. Although the date has changed, the ceremony times remain the same: hooding will be at 9 a.m. and commencement at 12:30 p.m.


Tim McGraw is holding his “Standing Room Only Tour” at 7 p.m. on the original date of graduation. The tour was announced last July. PPG Paints Arena did not respond to requests for comment. 


Keith Paylo, Vice President of Student Affairs and Dean of Students, said that towards the end of last semester, the university found out about the conflict. He said that several other options were discussed to keep graduation on the original date but that it was ultimately decided to stay at PPG Paints Arena because “PPG is the traditional location of Hooding and Commencement, and the arena creates an incredible atmosphere for this event.”


Paylo also said that the university books PPG Paints Arena one year in advance for this ceremony and that they will continue to request Saturdays in the coming years. 


Anisha Delarber, a senior psychology major, is from Tiffan, Ohio, about three hours from Pittsburgh. She said she was “caught off guard” when she first saw the email announcement.


“When I first saw the announcement, it just took me off guard a little bit, but I appreciated getting the heads up this far in advance,” Delarber said. “I’m not upset with the university because this isn’t something that was in their control.”


Delarber said she would not have minded graduation being held at another venue as long as it was close to campus. She also said that her family may not be able to attend because the new date is on a Friday. 


“My immediate family intends on coming, but they live in Ohio, so I’m not sure if they’ll be able to make it because of school and work, which would stink,” Delarber said. 


Marc Palombo, senior acting major and SGA president, said he does not really have any strong thoughts towards the change but that having graduation outdoors would have been an “intriguing option.”


“I have no strong feelings about it being held at PPG Paints Arena. However, I do recall many years ago graduations were once held outdoors, which could have been an intriguing option,” Palombo said. “This situation, in my view, is indicative of a larger communication problem within the university, one that impacts students, faculty and staff alike. It underscores the need for better communication and practices within our institution.”


Palombo said that his family still intends on coming to graduation and are only about an hour from campus.


Scott Spencer, head of the university registrar, said he found out about the potential date change in early Dec. and is “concerned” about having graduation on a Friday moving forward.


“I am concerned [the university] will look at [holding graduation] on Fridays moving forward because it is cheaper,” Spencer said. “Graduation is my favorite day of the academic calendar, and having it on a Saturday is what is easiest for everyone all around. [Faculty and staff] want to be at graduation too.”


Spencer also said that he feels “really bad” for any students affected by this change.


“We have so many graduate students who are single parents or who work full-time during the week… I just feel really bad if they can’t make it anymore,” Spencer said. “Everyone deserves to be celebrated equally.”


Final exams will still be held on Friday, and the university will still be open. Students are to coordinate any exam conflicts with professors beforehand. 


This year’s River State Conference (RSC) Outdoor Men’s and Women’s Track and Field Championship will be held Apr. 25-26 and be hosted by the university at Robert Morris P3R Track and Field Complex on Neville Island. Graduation is now a conflict for qualifying participants. Traditionally, the event is held on the last Friday and Saturday of April. There are nine seniors on the men’s team and five on the women’s. 


Natalea Hillen, a senior journalism major and member of the women’s track and field team, said she is “100 percent” going to be at graduation and will compete in the RSC Championships in some way.


“I will 100% be attending graduation and competing at the Conference Championships meet in some way; the goal is to get the whole experience at my college graduation and still compete,” Hillen said. My coach is still figuring out the plan for how we can do this. We are hosting the meet at Robert Morris University, so it is very doable, just not ideal.”


Hillen said she is “fifty-fifty” about whether she wanted graduation on the same day at a different venue or on Friday at PPG Paints Arena.


“At the end of the day, we only have control over ourselves; I have learned to accept things that are out of my control and to go with the flow,” Hillen said. “I was upset that graduation got moved to the same day as our finals day for the Conference Championships, but I will make the best of it and officially end my undergrad years working hard until the very end.”


Hillen, originally from McMurray in Peters Township, about a half hour from campus, said her immediate family will be at graduation but not her extended family if she has to leave graduation early for the track and field championship. 


In the coming weeks, more information will be provided via email and on the university’s website. The 2024-2025 academic calendar is out, and commencement is set to be held on Saturday, Apr. 26, 2025 at PPG Paints Arena.

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