Mother’s Day commencement poses issues for university

Rachel Mizanty, Correspondent

For the past six years, Marywood’s gift to mothers has been seeing their son or daughter graduate on Mother’s Day.But for faculty, staff, and students, the ceremony creates problems with their own Mother’s Day celebrations.According to John Coval, director of conferences and special events, Marywood has a one year contract with the Mohegan Sun Arena, which is renewable each year upon request. The university is currently locked in to having graduation on Mother’s Day because it was an open weekend, and fit into the academic schedule without conflict.

The Arena also was selected because it is close to Marywood, has seating for up to 10,000 people, and is an indoor location. Before relocating the ceremony to the Arena, graduation was held on campus at various outdoor locations including the Memorial Commons, the steps of the Liberal Arts Center, the Campus Green, Nazareth Student Center, and the McGowan parking lot.

In addition, the new location places no restrictions on how many people a graduate may bring to commencement.

“You think we have parking issues with just students on campus, imagine having graduation here. Multiply that,” said Sr. Catherine Luxner, director of Campus Ministry and organizer of the commencement liturgy. She has worked at the university for most of her life and looks at graduation as a day for the students. “Families say that this is a wonderful way to celebrate,” Luxner said.

But not all students enjoy having their graduation on Mother’s Day. Jeffrey Marmo, senior business and marketing major, said his friends won’t be able to see him graduate because of plans with their mothers. He said he doesn’t like the idea of having to split the day into celebrating his graduation and celebrating his mom. 

Faculty and staff are also torn about the Mother’s Day ceremony. Because it is their job, most have learned to work around the obstacle, like Rima Anescavage, administrative secretary for the Dean of the Reap College of Education and Human Development.

“[My family and I] always have to plan the day before or the day after to do whatever we have to do because as workers, we are exhausted after and can’t do anything. Graduation is very hectic and very busy,” she explained.

Dr. Arthur Comstock, executive director and chair of the business department, agreed.

“I’ve been here for 13 years, and it’s like ‘yeah, it’s on Mother’s Day again,’ [but] we get used to it,” said Comstock.

Dr. Laurie McMillan, associate professor and chair of the English department, said being away on Mother’s Day affects her children.

“I don’t think [having graduation events] on Mother’s Day weekend is a problem, [but] I think [having the main ceremony] on Mother’s Day is a problem,” said McMillan. “My children hate it. It’s not just about me. [They] get very upset that I’m not there.”

Stanley Grzenda, maintenance planner and scheduler, has been with the university for nearly 30 years and has spent every year working tirelessly for commencement weekend. Grzenda said that between the hooding ceremony and graduation, he puts in nearly 25 hours and realizes that graduation on Mother’s Day is very time-consuming for him.

“There’s always some type of plans at home with my mother or plans my wife does with my son that I miss out on,” Grzenda said.

Despite the challenges a Mother’s Day commencement creates for members of the Marywood community, changing the date is not easy. According to Coval, one reason is that the planning for the next commencement weekend begins the day after Mother’s Day. Changing the date will not be possible until at least 2015 because of contracts and because the academic calendar is already set.

Dr. Alan Levine, vice president for academic affairs, said he thinks change could come in the future. He acknowledged the concerns of all involved in commencement, and said the planning committee is taking these concerns into account for future ceremonies.

“It is not an easy decision. Are there other options? Could we do a Friday/Saturday instead of Saturday/Sunday? Well, that means people would have to take a day off of work, and it’s just a day, but there are always ups and downs,” said Levine.

Graduation will remain on Mother’s Day for at least the next three years, meaning members of the university community will have to share Mother’s Day with graduation until at least 2016.