Commencing Anew: Graduation to Have Separate Arena Ceremonies for Ground, Online Students

March 12, 2013 / by / 0 Comment

By Bob Romantic
GCU News Bureau

Amber Christenberry does a lot of things with her circle of friends at Grand Canyon University.

There’s intramurals, events to attend, homework, movies and eating together on campus. She even competes alongside some of them as a member of GCU’s track and field and cross country teams.

Graduates embrace the moment during the 2012 Commencement at GCU Arena.

This May, she’ll be doing something else – going through commencement at GCU Arena with the same people she has shared those experiences with.

For the first time, the University is creating separate graduation ceremonies for traditional students who attend classes on campus. Two commencements are planned May 2 for traditional students, followed by four more ceremonies May 3 and 4 for non-traditional students who attend classes online.

“I like the idea,” said Christenberry, an education major who has served on the Associated Students of GCU since transferring to the University as a sophomore. “I would like to walk with the people I have been here with for three years.

“Online students have their own community in a sense, too, so it’s a good idea for them to walk with people experiencing education the same way that they are.”

Commencement 2013
(At GCU Arena)
Traditional students
— Thursday, May 2, 10 a.m.: College of Nursing and Health Care Professions
— Thursday, May 2, 3 p.m.: College of Arts and Sciences, College of Fine Arts and Production, College of Education, College of Theology and Ken Blanchard College of Business
Non-traditional students 
— Friday, May 3, 10 a.m.: College of Arts and Sciences, College of Theology 
— Friday, May 3, 3 p.m.: Ken Blanchard College of Business 
— Saturday, May 4, 10 a.m.: College of Doctoral Studies, College of Education 
— Saturday, May 4, 3 p.m.: College of Nursing and Health Care Professions 
Note: Registration deadline for commencement is March 29. Go to

Dr. Kathy Player, associate provost at GCU, said the change also was made in order to keep the ceremonies more personal as the University continues to grow. About 1,000 traditional students are expected to graduate in May (twice as many as last year), and about 4,000 non-traditional students are expected to participate in commencement.

“We still wanted to maintain a special experience for students on the campus of GCU versus moving offsite to a massive facility,” Player said. “With six ceremonies, students get to walk across the stage in front of family and friends, shake the hand of their dean as their name is announced and their photo is displayed. If GCU rented an offsite setting, the ceremony would so massive it would force us at some point to just confer degrees by groups and students collectively stand up and sit down.

“By keeping it smaller through hosting six ceremonies, it lets families and friends see them make that special walk.”

Shelby Bartusek, who graduates in May with a bachelor’s degree in exercise science with an emphasis in physical therapy, also likes the new format.

“I’m excited that they cared enough to do that,” said Bartusek, who has been a Life Leader on campus, played on the women’s soccer team and this year was the communications director for ASGCU. “Our class has been through all the big changes here on campus the last four years.”

Contact Bob Romantic at 639.7611 or

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