College to hold commencement on Sawyer Quad

This year, for the first time, the College will hold commencement in the new Sawyer-Stetson Quad. A change from recent years’ location in Science Quad, this will accommodate the construction occurring on the new science center addition.

College officials have been planning the change to Sawyer Quad for commencement for some time.

“We began planning the electrical needs for Commencement in the Library Quad (outlets, conduit, voltage, power sources, etc.) in November 2014,” Carrie Greene ’84, director of commencement and academic events, said. “Though we knew Bronfman [Science Center] was not be scheduled for demolition until spring 2018, we also knew the south science building and the bookstore would be well underway by this point, with construction sites (and potential parking challenges) adjacent to the Science Quad. Thus, it seemed advisable to move for 2017.”

Indeed, officials planned the landscaping of the new Sawyer Quad to accommodate the commencement ceremonies, and much of the planning for the new commencement location occurred prior to that renovation, Greene said. Professor of Chemistry and College Marshal Jay Thoman ’82 noted that the trees on the quad were largely spaced to accommodate the stands for commencement.

The site itself should hold a similar number of people as the science quad location, though some changes will be necessary to adapt to the new site, particularly regarding  potential weather issues.

“We will duplicate the layout we used at the Science Quad, in terms of seating and bleachers,” Greene said. “We lose the hill overlooking the old site, however, which was popular with local families and provided some shade from trees. There will be no shade in the new site, at least not until the new trees grow out. For the past few years, we put up a shade tent in the science quad in case of light rain or excessive heat. In the new site, we will use of Brooks-Rogers Recital Hall for indoor viewing.” The new site will also have improved wheelchair accessibility.

The largest change to the commencement ceremony, Thoman said, will be made to the processional and recessional routes.

“The processional will start in the same place (Frosh Quad), turn between Paresky [Student Center] and Sage [Hall], head South on Park Street, along the Route 2 sidewalk in front of Sloan House, then up Chapin Hall drive and into the commencement arena,” Thoman said. “Neither the processional nor the recessional will cross Route 2 — which makes many people happy. The unfortunate consequence is that the recessional will not pass through the Hopkins Gate. Graduates will have to ‘Climb High…’ on their own.”

As with the science quad location, Lansing-Chapman Ice Rink will serve as the indoor location in the event of lightning or other severe weather, with plans to accommodate an increased capacity should it be necessary.

“The good news is that graduates will get four tickets to indoor Commencement 2017, and not three as advertised earlier this year,” Thoman said.  “Thanks to the work of many, the College was authorized to fit a few more people in the space.”

Due to the construction in the science center and the demolition of Bronfman Science Center, the Sawyer Quad location will be home to commencement for at least the next four years.