Photo by CHRISTINA MORGERA
The change in location to the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn for a university-wide commencement ceremony has been revoked for the LIU Post, Riverhead and Brentwood campuses. LIU Post’s graduation for the class of 2013 will be held in its traditional place—the Great Lawn.
“I had a strong sense that Post wanted its own thing,” said LIU president David Steinberg during an interview with the Pioneer last week, after being adamant about the location in Brooklyn being a final decision when the change was released.
After President Steinberg announced the university-wide commencement ceremony on November 28, senior social work major Audrey Thompson started a petition to raise awareness that many seniors were less than pleased with the decision to move the graduation to the Barclay’s Center.
“It’s our campus and it’s about our Post pride. It’s always been here; we didn’t want it to change. We want to be proud of our campus. It’s beautiful with the big tent on the Great Lawn. It’s momentous,” said Thompson.
Thompson reported that she expected to get a lot of signatures on her online petition (found at change.org); however, she did not expect the school to actually change it.
“Everyone was telling me it was set in stone already—they’re not going to fix it, but good luck. I at least wanted to try and make some noise and let the administrators know that we are not okay with this,” Thompson said.
The Pioneer reported on the dissatisfaction of students when the press release of the university-wide commencement ceremony was first released on December 5.
“I thought it was a great loss [bringing the commencement ceremony back to the Great Lawn]…[but] I wasn’t looking for a fight,” said President Steinberg. “We are one university; our degree comes from Long Island University,” he adds. He said that the day was about the students and through letters sent to him he felt that they wanted to graduate following tradition and repeatedly said that he didn’t want to fight about it.
If the ceremony was to be held at the Barclay’s Center, it would have saved the university thousands of dollars. The tents rented for the ceremony on the Great Lawn cost about $200,000. When the Barclay’s center was built, it made an agreement with Long Island University to give the university access to the venue and discounted tickets for events. The graduation ceremony is complimentary in the agreement and would not cost the university anything, according to President Steinberg. Brooklyn, Hudson and the pharmacy school will continue to have a university-wide commencement ceremony held at the Barclay’s center for the class of 2013.
The ceremony at the Barclay’s Center is scheduled for May 16, after Brooklyn’s semester ends. Because Post will now be having its own ceremony on the Great Lawn, the date has been changed back to the original date of May 10.
“The officers, the president and the trustees looked at it from the perspective that it is such a phenomenal venue available. Given the recent successful efforts to create a better branding platform for Long Island University, it was thought that we could signal to the world the true value and size and diversity of Long Island University by having everyone graduate there,” said Paul Forestell, LIU Post Provost.
Forestell reported that he saw a mixed reaction from students about the location of the ceremony. However, many students put up a fight to have the ceremony back on Post’s campus.
“I will be graduating with the class of 2013 this year, and I think the new plan for graduation is completely against what we the students want and deserve. We are not interested in a money-saving, irrational ceremony in which we are not familiar. We deserve to graduate alongside our lifelong friends at one time, together, with our family members watching us, not within a packed center in which we have no personal connection to,” said Samantha Osgood, senior Sociology major and Political Science minor.
Many students felt strongly about the issue and raised their voices about it. The petition had 174 signers and President Steinberg said that he received a lot of emails in regards to the new location.
“People became all misty-eyed about the tent,” said President Steinberg.
Besides students voicing their opinions, there were several other issues that Forestell suggested likely had an impact on President Steinberg’s decision to bring the ceremony back to the Great Lawn after the administration was adamant about its previous decision. Because there would be more students attending the ceremony each student would start off with having only two tickets each (President Steinberg said that this is standard at all American universities) until Long Island University found out how many graduates were actually attending. Another issue was that on the day selected for Long Island University’s commencement ceremony by the Barclay’s Center there were other events going on at the venue. This compressed the amount of time the university had to do the ceremony.
“If this is what Post wants this is what they will get…this is about you [the students],” said President Steinberg.
When President Steinberg retires after the 2012-2013 academic year, the fate of the commencement ceremony will fall in the new president’s hands. As for this year, graduation will follow tradition and be hosted on the Great Lawn.
The ceremony will be coordinated by Beth Carson, Registrar, this year as Dana Weiss, associate provost for Business Operations and Auxiliary Services, resigned. She announced her resignation on November 15, 2012, and it was active on January 1, 2013. Carson was asked to take the position to coordinate the commencement ceremony by Forestell.
“We will use the playbook of years’ past,” said President Steinberg about how the ceremony will differ with a new coordinator. Weiss left behind scripts and contacts; therefore, Carson will be able to run the graduation similar to previous years.
“As a leader it’s your responsibility to make decisions that you truly believe are in the best interests of the institution and the people that institution serves. And there are many that say if you’re not ticking someone off, you’re not really doing your job right,” said Forestell.