Letters to the Editor, Opinions

Letter to the Editor: Cal State Long Beach President Jane Close Conoley responds

Last week the Daily 49er wrote an article about the 2018 commencement changes. A quote from me stating that ‘we were the class of 2018 and it (commencement) was a disaster’ was an unfortunate attempt at humor. This phrase, especially when taken out of context, did not in any way reflect my true thoughts and feelings about this year’s ceremonies. For this inaccuracy, I sincerely apologize to students, faculty and staff. I continue to feel that this year’s commencement will be not only beautiful, but most importantly will honor our time-honored traditions.

A correction that I wanted to point out:

The venue will be the intramural fields, not the George Allen field as stated in the article.  

I want to thank everyone who has taken the time to voice their opinions on the proposed changes to Long Beach State University’s 2018 commencement ceremonies. I fully understand these events are among the most important in the life of our campus and that the effects of these special days are far-reaching, so my team and I take each concern seriously. Some aspects of commencement will remain intact, while others – out of necessity – must be modified. In short, we will change venues but our longstanding, beloved traditions will continue.

To begin with, I am happy to announce that live music – performed by your fellow students – will be restored to the program. Student response provided us with insight about its importance to graduates, and so live music will be played at the ceremonies. In the meantime, the provost and I are committed to securing a private donor to help fund the performances.

The biggest change to the ceremonies will be the location. While the quad has been the traditional venue for commencement – and I agree, it is a beautiful space – we have “outgrown” the site in terms of numbers of participants, safety concerns and costs.

As Provost Jersky pointed out in his message last week, the number of attendees has grown each year, so we have to find new ways to accommodate the larger numbers of graduates – along with the bigger crowds of families and friends – without substantially increasing costs or lengthening ceremonies.

Furthermore, security and safety continue to be paramount, and using the new intramurals field site will allow the campus to address both concerns. Because of the larger crowds, we must manage the issue of providing better pathways in the event of emergencies – something we are no longer able to do at the quad location. These matters directly affect first responders and emergency planning. In addition, the site provides attendees – particularly the elderly and those with disabilities and health challenges – a place to view the ceremonies out of the midday sun and heat at the nearby, air-conditioned Pyramid. It also is worth noting the intramurals fields’ location presents better access to parking for the disabled.

As we continue toward our May commencement dates, we will share clear and timely communications so you have a better idea of the details and challenges surrounding these events. I want to close by saying how proud I am of our traditions and in the campus’ beauty, and that I am grateful so many students celebrate the many wonderful aspects of The Beach.

Go Beach!

Jane Close Conoley, Ph.D.


Read the response from the Daily 49er editorial board here

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