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Health Center moves graduation off campus

by Kristina Goodnough - April 30, 2007

The Health Center will hold its Commencement ceremonies May 13 at the new Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford, moving the event off campus for the first time in more than 25 years.

“The students are thrilled,” says Karen Majeski, administrative officer in Academic Affairs and Education who has been involved in arrangements for the Health Center’s Commencement for the past several years.

“It poured during last year’s event and there were rivers of water running underneath the tent. It was not an especially pleasant experience,” she says.

“We had tried over the years to think of alternative locations, but there wasn’t a suitable one that was big enough. After last year, we approached representatives of the new convention center and found, to our surprise, that the site was available and the cost was comparable.”

After an initial couple of years at the Storrs campus, the Health Center moved graduation to its campus at the urging of students who felt more connection with the Farmington location.

It was held under a tent in the parking lot near the academic entrance of the main building.

“When the wind blew, you couldn’t hear the speakers,” says Dr. Anthony Ardolino, associate dean for medical student affairs.

The students soon became disenchanted with the set up.

“The medical student speaker from the Class of ’95 captured the students’ sentiment in a song he wrote and sang instead of a speech,” Ardolino says.

“The refrain was ‘It makes you feel like a real big shot, graduating in a parking lot.’”

Each year the tent was erected in May and stayed up for about a week, creating a setting for alumni events and other activities.

“It was an awkward configuration, coming from the tent, up the stairs and into the Food Court for the reception,” adds Ardolino.

“There weren’t enough bathrooms. And the tent displaced large amounts of parking, which troubled Health Center employees and other students.”

This year’s Commencement ceremony for medical and dental school graduates will be held in a large ballroom in the convention center, with a reception area located next door.

“There is plenty of room,” says Majeski, “and we don’t have to worry about the weather.”

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