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Chapel remains "first choice" for commencement

      As the time for commencement once again approaches, students are already wondering whether or not there will be enough tickets for their families this year.

     During last year’s ticket-shortage fiasco, many graduating seniors called for MVNU administration to move the commencement ceremony to Ariel Arena to allow for more seating.

     Despite these wishes, MVNU President Henry Spaulding and his senior leadership team decided to keep commencement in the chapel for 2016. According to Barney Cochran, vice president for academic affairs, this decision came after a recommendation from the Commencement Committee, which Cochran chairs.

     The committee’s decision was made based on input from various departments on campus, including the registrar’s office, academic affairs, ITS and security.

     “We think the chapel embodies our institutional mission and identity,” Cochran said. “For many of our students, the chapel has been a place of great significance. While faith permeates our campus and we can encounter God anywhere, it is in the chapel that we are most explicitly and obviously a worshipping community.”

     Senior English major Carley Phillips, who completed her degree in December but will return for the ceremony in April, agreed that the chapel was the best choice.

     “I love that it’s in the chapel,” Phillips said. “It’s the prettiest location on campus, and it’s not a gym. No matter how nice and new the gym is, chapel is what our campus is centered around.”

     Further, switching commencement to Ariel Arena “would significantly increase the expense involved,” which the committee felt would be a misuse of funds, Cochran said.

     Although the arena, the newest building on campus, is a modern facility for athletic events, it would take a lot of planning and work to create the feel needed for hosting a formal celebration such as graduation.

     Campus officials said they don’t expect to run into problems with the ticket quantities.

     “We are graduating a significantly smaller class this year, so we found that we could supply each graduating senior with a larger number of tickets for guests without having to move the event to Ariel,” Cochran said.

     Senior video and radio broadcasting major Annabelle Harray was also happy to hear that commencement would remain in the chapel.

     “I think it’s a great idea,” Harray said. “The chapel is so much prettier, and we’re such a small class, we don’t need the extra seats.”

     There are no plans to relocate the ceremony to Ariel Arena in the near future. Though they will re-evaluate the location on a year-by-year basis, the chapel is “always our first choice” for commencement, Cochran said.

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