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New split commencement format needed to accommodate record number of degrees issued

United States Senator will address morning ceremony

CMU has established a new split commencement format in order to accommodate 1,423 degrees earned by 1,343 graduates. During Saturday’s ceremony CMU is projected to issue 134 Associate degrees, 860 Baccalaureate degrees and 25 master’s and doctorate credentials. The university also acknowledged the issuance of 16 professional and technical certificates throughout 2019. 

Vice President of Academic Affairs Kurt Haas, PhD, led the presentation of technical and professional certificates as well as associate degrees.

“During my more than two decade tenure at CMU, 2019 stands out as a time when we are issuing an incredible diversity of credentials to a broad and increasingly diverse range of students,” said Hass. “In addition to the number of degrees issued, the diversity of credentials offered reflects CMU’s evolving journey of academic growth during the last decade.” 

U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner is the speaker at the morning commencement ceremony which will take place at 8:30am. 

“In a nation of more than 300 million people there only 100 senators. Sometimes it’s easy to forget how significant a senatorial visit is for students — irrespective of party or politics,” said CMU President Tim Foster. “Senator Gardner’s ongoing work in international policy makes him a great messenger for students at time when the world they face is full of opportunity, challenges and complexity.” 

“I greatly look forward to welcoming Senator Gardner back to CMU on Saturday,” Foster continued. 

During the ceremony, President Foster will highlight a number of students for their remarkable achievements and inspirational stories. Among these students are Sara Gladding, who studied mechanical engineering at CMU. Gladding is a student leader. She helped lead the widely celebrated Go Baby Go event, where CMU students across disciplines join together to modify ride-on electric cars for kids with disabilities. 

CMU’s campus culture of inclusion will also be on display during the 2019 commencement as Halana Maika’I Bertelmann-Makanani, who previously suffered a traumatic brain injury, will walk across the stage with a degree. Halana plans to stay in Grand Junction in order to give back to the community who supported her in earning a degree and overcoming challenges to do so. 

The featured students at commencement range from those studying arts and music to student-athletes and international students. Those featured in the commencement program remarks represent a record-breaking diversity of students on CMU’s campus. 

“The international program at CMU combined with our support programs for first-generation and minority students have resulted in a graduating class with students from more than ten countries as well as student veterans and more people enrolled from outside CMU’s prescribed service area than those from within,” said Vice President of Student Services John Marshall. "That’s a first.” 

CMU Alumni Association Board President Doug Sorter will reflect on the importance of continuity and having a supportive donor base and active alumni organization. On the heels of a year where the CMU endowment surpassed $30 million dollars, Sorter will also announce the creation of a new alumni chapter recognizing the role that service animals play in the education of people with physical and emotional disabilities. 

“Technology, training and social awareness have created an environment where life-saving and life-altering animals provide some students educational opportunities they would otherwise forgo,” said Sorter. “The creation of a service animal chapter is meant to give students and their service companions a platform for post-graduation fellowship and a new vehicle for paving the way for people from all walks of life at CMU.” 

CMU officials encourages those unable to attend commencement to follow the festivities through the university’s livestream capabilities. Remote observes are encouraged to visit the livestream site

Additionally, observers are encouraged to:

 -watch CMU|now for post commencement video recap

-follow @ColoradoMesaU on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for real-time updates

-use hashtag #CMesaUgrad to possibly be featured on CMU’s social media channels

The morning commencement ceremony will begin at 8:30am with an evening ceremony at 4pm.

Graduates and supporters are encouraged to review the commencement reference guide and website for additional information and logistics. 

Media who plan to attend the ceremony are encouraged to contact media relations for parking.

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Written by David Ludlam