Graduating class is a record-setter

Graduating students applaud each other

Photo by Christopher Gannon.

Changes being implemented this semester to graduation weekend now include moving the undergraduate ceremony outside to Jack Trice Stadium on Saturday, May 7. President Steven Leath announced the venue change April 29, due in part to several years of record enrollments and corresponding record graduation classes. Iowa State will graduate an anticipated 4,601 students this week, an increase of more than 225 over last spring's largest-ever graduating class.

"It has long been Iowa State's tradition to ensure everyone is welcome to attend the ceremony," Leath wrote in a letter to students, faculty and staff. Noting that a significant stadium renovation was completed last summer, "this will be an exciting venue for our graduates and guests," he wrote.

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Schedule of college graduation events

An anticipated 3,823 undergraduates will complete degrees from Iowa State this semester. The undergraduate ceremony will begin at 1:30 p.m.; stadium gates 3 (south) and 5 (northwest) open at 11:30 a.m. and all guests will sit in the west bleachers. If weather threatens the outdoor plans, an announcement will be made by noon Friday to move the ceremony back to Hilton Coliseum. Regardless of the venue, video of the ceremony will be livestreamed in Stephens Auditorium and online from the registrar's website.

U.S. Energy Secretary Ernesto Moniz will give the commencement address. Moniz, a nuclear physicist, has led the federal Department of Energy since May 2013. Previously, he served for 40 years on the physics faculty at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge.

Graduate, veterinary medicine ceremonies

The Graduate College will move its ceremony from Friday to Thursday evening, May 5, as part of the changes this spring. An anticipated 113 doctoral and 523 master's students will be honored. The ceremony begins at 7:30 p.m. in Hilton Coliseum. Dan Nettleton, Distinguished Professor in Liberal Arts and Sciences (statistics) and holder of the Laurence H. Baker Chair in Biological Statistics, was selected to address the graduates. The Algona native has been a member of the ISU faculty since 2000. At any given time, Nettleton is mentoring four to six doctoral students.

Plans to recognize Iowa State's anticipated 142 doctor of veterinary medicine candidates remain largely unchanged from past years. The ceremony will begin at noon Saturday in Stephens Auditorium. Dr. Marcus Kehrli, director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Animal Disease Center in Ames since 2013, will address the graduates. Kehrli holds four Iowa State degrees, including a D.V.M. and a Ph.D. in immunology, and also serves as collaborating faculty member in the animal science department. His research focus is on infectious diseases in cattle and swine.

Changes to graduation weekend

As first announced in January, several changes to commencement weekend are being implemented this semester to improve the experience for families. Other key ones are:

  • Graduation traditions – for example, caps and gowns, conferring of degrees or a keynote speaker – that over time had crept into the college events will be reserved for the university-wide ceremonies
  • Final exams end at noon on Friday
  • Four of the six undergraduate colleges have assigned times in Hilton Coliseum Friday afternoon, evening or Saturday morning for their own events. The other two colleges, Engineering and Design, have developed traditions of hosting smaller events by department or program, and will continue to hold those events in their college spaces.

Tickets are not needed for any graduation events, including a reception hosted by the ISU Alumni Association immediately following the undergraduate ceremony on Saturday afternoon (approximately 4 p.m. in the Alumni Center).