GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) Around 2,300 students will graduate tomorrow from East Carolina University during the Fall Commencement ceremony.
Preparations have been underway since the last commencement ceremony in order to get everything in place.
According to commencement co-chair, Chris Stansbury, it takes a lot of behind the scenes work to plan the ceremony.
Coordination between colleges and schools to reserve space is just the tip of the iceberg.
Parking must be designated, event staff hired and ECU has to work with the city on traffic and road closures/construction.
For events like these, teamwork is essential.
“We’ve got our facilities folks, our athletics folks…everybody is really coming together and it’s going to be a fantastic day,” said Stansbury.
Additional preparations include testing audio/visual aspects of the ceremonies and catering.
In the days leading up to the ceremony, Minges Coliseum has to be prepared.
The basketball hoops were removed on Wednesday night and the mat was laid out on the floor.
Early Thursday morning crews carefully set out 1,000 chairs for the graduates and the stage was brought in and set up, as well.
Stansbury says on average there will be around four to five people per graduate and he expects Minges Coliseum to be pretty packed.
The main ceremony will begin at 9 A.M. at Minges Coliseum where students will walk in together and each college will be recognized.
The keynote speaker will be Dr. Laura Gerald, president of the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust.
In this ceremony, students will not be individually called to walk across the stage but there will be other smaller ceremonies throughout the day.
“We also have departmental programs for colleges or departments that have their individual ones and that tends to be where you have an undergraduate student name called, they go up to a stage and receive a diploma there,” said Stansbury.
The large crowd of people in Greenville for commencement will provide an economic boost to the city.
According to Stansbury, almost all hotels within 30 miles of Greenville are booked up and chances are, families will be having celebratory meals, drinks and shopping trips in Uptown Greenville, therefore, supporting local businesses.
Meredith Hawke, interim director of Uptown Greenville, believes the businesses are ready.
“Uptown Greenville flourishes during commencement,” said Hawke. “It’s an opportunity to show off our center city to all these visitors who are in such a celebratory time.”
Many students who are graduating are legacy students which mean their parents attended ECU when Greenville was very different.
“It’s that chance to bring them back and for that student to show off where they just spent a portion of their life and a portion of their time and be really proud of the school that they’re graduating from and the city that they’re graduating from,” said Hawke.
Students are encouraged to bring their loved ones to celebrate the weekend at one of the many Uptown businesses.