President Jim Ryan speaks to a crowd seated in front of a brick building with white columns

Education, Batten Schools to Join Arts & Sciences on Saturdays for Final Exercises

The changes, which take effect this academic year, are based on survey data about student preferences.

Alice Berry

Graduates of the University of Virginia’s School of Education and Human Development and the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy will join students from the College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences in walking the Lawn on Saturday for Final Exercises, beginning in May.

The move allows the University to continue offering six guest tickets for each graduate – one of the most important parts of Final Exercises, according to a student survey.

“On behalf of the School of Education and Human Development, we are elated to have this opportunity to share the day with our friends and colleagues at Batten and the College,” Stephanie Rowley, dean of the Education School, said. “Many of our students’ academic journeys started in the College, and this will be a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the culmination of years of hard work, dedication and perseverance.”

Since 2015, when the University adopted a two-day schedule for Final Exercises, graduates in the College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences have walked the Lawn on Saturday during Finals Weekend. Students in UVA’s 11 other schools, including graduates from the Education School and the Batten schools, received their diplomas on Sunday.

But changes in enrollment meant the ceremonies grew lopsided as more students joined other schools, so roughly 1,600 more students were graduating on Sunday than Saturday.

This summer, University officials began looking into ways to make each day of Final Exercises more balanced. A group of current students and the Class of 2023 trustees were surveyed about what aspects of graduation weekend meant the most to them, and what they wanted graduation to look like.

About two-thirds of surveyed students said they preferred the current two-day format over other suggestions, including one ceremony at Scott Stadium or one ceremony on the Lawn. Students said having two ceremonies allows them to have more loved ones in attendance.

Rachel Moore, a fourth-year student majoring in youth and social innovation in the Education School, said she welcomed the change.

“I also appreciate that the entire Ed School was moved to Saturday instead of choosing specific majors. I have friends who span across majors within the school, and I’m excited to still have the opportunity to walk with them,” Moore said.

For this academic year’s graduates, Finals Weekend will take place May 17-19.

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Alice Berry