This spring semester, The University of Texas-Pan American will be changing the venue for the commencement ceremonies, scheduled for Saturday, May 12, from the UTPA Fieldhouse to the new McAllen Convention Center, located on South Ware Road and Expressway 83.
The University's decision to move the commencement venue was prompted by the increase in UTPA graduates and their guests over the years said Dr. Ana Maria Rodriguez, chair of the Commencement Committee and senior vice provost for undergraduate studies. This semester, the 1,452 prospective candidates for degrees include 1,103 for bachelor's degrees, 336 candidates for master's degrees and 13 for doctoral degrees.
"Our fieldhouse can only accommodate so many people. When we began to issue a limited number of tickets to students, they began to request that we look at holding commencement at a location where we could accommodate more people. Therefore, the administration's decision to change the venue was made in response to student needs and with a great deal of student input. The safety of graduates, their families and guests was also an issue that was considered," Rodriguez said.
The McAllen Convention Center will seat 528 graduates and 4,894 guests, while the UTPA Fieldhouse seats between 450-500 graduates on the floor and 3,700 guests on the bleachers.
The committee took two years in exploring several venues around the Rio Grande Valley before settling on the $62 million facility she said. The committee found the UTPA commencement calendar, which is planned three to four years in advance, and the convention center calendar were a good match for this academic year.
"The McAllen Convention Center is a new venue in the Rio Grande Valley that is able to accommodate a large number of people for one event," she said. "The staff at the convention center has worked well with us in planning and designing the event, since an event such as this will be a first. There is also ample parking spaces available to accommodate the guests."
This semester, prospective graduates will be allotted 12 tickets for their family members and guests to comply with the Fire Marshal's Code of maximum seating capacity for the convention center. In previous semesters they were designated six tickets each. Guests attending the commencement ceremonies will be required to present a ticket to be admitted.
"Graduates, their families, guests and audience can expect grand ceremonies, solemn and celebrative, as they have always been at the UTPA Fieldhouse, but now held in a brand new majestic center," Rodriguez said.
Also this semester, the University will go to a three-ceremony format starting at 9 a.m. with the College of Education, which features 393 prospective graduates, the largest group in any of the six colleges. At 1:30 p.m. the College of Business Administration (224) and College of Health Sciences and Human Services (240) will share the arena. The final ceremony of the day at 5:30 p.m. will combine the College of Arts and Humanities (223), College of Science and Engineering (218) and College of Social and Behavioral Sciences (154).
Serving as the 2007 spring commencement speakers will be Noé Hinojosa Jr., president and CEO of Estrada Hinojosa & Company, Inc., who will be speaking at 9 a.m.; Edward H. Muñoz, principal of Muñoz Group, who will be addressing the 1:30 p.m. ceremony; and Sylvia M. Courtney, vice president of engineering for Raytheon Company, will speak at 5:30 p.m.
For more information or special accommodations, contact the Office of the Registrar at 956/381-2389 no later than Thursday, May 10.