The Graduation Committee was one of six committees assigned to help with recovery after the Oct. 1 shooting. One of the goals of the committee was to ensure that this year’s commencement ceremony was the same as previous years however, this year will feature high profile speakers in Governor Kate Brown and Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin.
1,500-1,800 people are expected to attend the commencement ceremony Friday, June 10 at the Swanson Amphitheater. Media companies from Portland and Eugene, as well as local media are expected to appear. “I don’t see this as being a huge big media presence, but it could be. The governor tends to attract more attention,” Public Information Officer Anne Marie Levis said. According to Levis, there will be an area designated for media companies that is not obtrusive and is respectful.
Having Sheriff Hanlin as a speaker is the result of a survey that went out to students. The survey had other high profile names such as Alek Skarlatos, the Roseburg High School graduate who aided in stopping the Thalys train attack in 2015, and Second Lady Jill Biden. Although Skarlatos won the majority vote, the committee was unable to come into contact with Skarlatos. Ultimately Sheriff Hanlin was selected and contacted.
There are some concerns among students that having Sheriff Hanlin as a speaker may trigger thoughts and stress associated with the Oct. 1 shooting. “Anything I would say to try and alleviate it doesn’t give credence to that feeling and I want to honor that feeling,” Levis said, “I think the wonderful thing about having him is that he is a UCC graduate so the nice part of it is that he has real ties here.” Hanlin will be in a dress uniform, which is different from his regular uniform, and has been given some talking points to consider for his speech. The committee wants the commencement ceremony to be focused on the graduates, and a moment of silence will be the only real nod towards the shooting.
Governor Brown contacted the college and asked if she could come. Brown spoke at the vigil on the first night after the shooting, and was at UCC on the first day classes resumed. “She had a huge part in making it a priority that the funding got to Umpqua Community College out of the short session, so she has very, very fond and close feelings for this campus,” Levis said, “I think it’s quite nice that she has us as a priority, and thought enough of us to come here.”
Tickets are not required to attend commencement, however commemorative tickets and pins will be distributed.
“I hope that commencement is about honoring and celebrating the people who have worked so hard to get here,” Levis said.