High enrollments cause two colleges to split graduations

Wednesday, February 13, 2002

ST. JOSEPH, Mo. -- Two northwest Missouri colleges will address burgeoning enrollment and increased complaints from relatives by holding two graduation ceremonies at each college this spring.

Missouri Western State College and Northwest Missouri State University were getting increasing complaints from students and their families because of problems getting into graduation ceremonies.

Overcrowding is "a fun problem to have, though," said Don Willis, Missouri Western State College dean of students. "We're certainly not the ones complaining."

Ken White, Northwest's public relations director, said students have complained for the last two springs because some relatives and friends couldn't get into the ceremonies.

The graduates at both schools will be split according to their majors.

In Maryville, 500 Northwest students will graduate in morning and afternoon ceremonies April 27. In St. Joseph, Western's 400 graduates will walk across the stage at afternoon and evening ceremonies May 11.

"For the most part, students here are first-generation college graduates," said Olu Aregbe, Missouri Western's Student Government Association president. "So we didn't want to limit the number of family members they could bring because it means so much."

Turned people away

Last May, Willis said the school had to turn people away from the school's fieldhouse despite its seating capacity of 4,000.

"That's when it became very obvious that we'd outgrown it," he said. "Many people didn't get in and were hostile about it. First come, first served just doesn't cut it anymore."

In the past, spring graduates at Northwest had been allotted four to six free tickets for their guests due to space limited to 2,500 at Bearcat Arena.

"We absolutely had to do that for crowd control, but that's not the way we want to send off our graduates," White said. "The bottom line is students won't have to worry about how many people they can invite to their graduation anymore."

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