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CSULB winter commencement was canceled due to staff shortages, Conoley said

Long Beach State officials could not secure an official date for the winter commencement ceremony due to schedule conflicts and staff shortages.

CSULB President Jane Close Conoley said on Monday, April 11 that the plan to host a traditional commencement ceremony with in-person, name reading, and stage walking components for Beach graduates was canceled.

Hosting the graduation ceremony at the Walter Pyramid was not just to ease students’ concerns over the Angel Stadium arrangement, but an attempt to address the long-term issue of limited capacity for an on-campus commencement due to increased graduation rates, according to Conoley.

“I feel terrible about it because I know people were really looking forward to [commencement],” Conoley said.“I was looking forward to both of them, the short-term disappointment about Angel Stadium, name [readings] and stage [walking] but also in the longer term, have this as a way to keep the ceremonies manageable.”

During the beginning stages of creating an ideal plan for future commencements, Conoley said the CSULB commencement team and Jeff Cook, who is the head of the division that plans events, faced issues with the Walter Pyramid.

The original plan for winter commencement was to host it in December after finals week, but most staff members were already planning to go on vacation, Conoley said.

“We’re short-staffed in so many ways because of COVID-19,” she said. “How can we have [employees] work all night to work the stage back up, after they’ve just taken it down? You know, I can’t in good conscience.”

The next issue was finding two or three consecutive days to hold graduation at the Pyramid, so the commencement team reached out to senior athletics director, Mark Edrington to secure a date in January.

According to Conoley, the athletics program said they couldn’t find a way to shift days to accommodate for graduation due to men’s basketball.

“The major thing was finding three days in the pyramid that were consecutive days because we were expecting as many as 4,000 students who would have come,” Conoley said.

The Big West consists of 11 teams located throughout California and Hawaii, and they were looking to move basketball games to the Anaheim Convention Center, they couldn’t work out the schedule.

“I think we’re now beating a dead horse,” Conoley said. “You know, we’ve missed the window where these places are available, and I think the students need to plan whether they’ll come to Angel Stadium or not.”

Conoley also said she will continue to find a way to bring traditional commencement ceremonies back on-campus in May 2023.

“The third logistical issue from my standpoint was timing,” Conoley said. “I thought we had to give people at least a five weeks [notice] to say, ‘[Commencement] is going to be in Angel Stadium, and that’s the way it’s going to be this year.’ Maybe next year there’ll be two series of commencements, but it is not going to happen for 2022, regretfully.”

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