May 7, 2013 10:52 AM by Samantha Ptashkin
TUCSON- Graduations are all about pomp and circumstance, but this year The University of Arizona is breaking with tradition.
For the first time since 1972, undergrads and students earning a master's degree, will receive their diplomas at Arizona Stadium, rather than McKale Center.
"I think it's awesome and I'm really excited that it's at night, so everyone can enjoy the nice Tucson weather under the lights," says UA Senior Allie O'Brien. "It will be a blast."
With enrollment up and graduation rates on the rise, the UA decided to change the location of the ceremony to accommodate a bigger crowd. "We wanted to make sure every single parent, every grandparent, family member, or friend who wanted to participate in the commencement ceremony could do that," says Kasey Urquidez, Dean of Undergraduate Admissions.
Urquidez says this year they are expecting between 18,000 and 20,000 people. They will all be seated on the east side of the stadium, in the Zona Zoo. "I think it will be pretty interesting for them to see what it's like in our shoes for a little while," says UA Senior Nicholas Stolz.
The ceremony will somewhat resemble a football game.
There will be fireworks at the end and a few other surprises for the graduates. "We're going to make sure this is what students expect to do when they graduate," Urquidez says. "We want them to be excited to finish their university experience with a stadium graduation."
It's a new graduation tradition in a place where wildcat tradition is born. "I'm excited to be on the football field for the last time," O'Brien says. "That will be a great way to end the year."
The ceremony starts rain or shine, at 7:30pm this Friday night. It is open to the public.