Ashford graduation.jpg

Ashford University graduate Tasha Jenkins, of Jackson, Miss., talks on her phone, while friend Tionn Fambro, of the Quad-Cities, holds an umbrella during last spring’s graduation ceremonies at Ashford University's main campus.

Scott Levine/Clinton Herald
Herald Staff Writer

Ashford University graduates in October won’t receive their diplomas in Clinton this year.

Instead they will walk across a stage at the iWireless Center in Moline, Ill., diverting an economy-boosting event from the area.  

Marianne Perez, media relations manager for Ashford’s parent company, Bridgepoint Education, confirmed Wednesday that the Oct. 14 ceremony would be held in the Quad-Cities to avoid a situation similar to the one that unfolded during the ceremony this past spring.  

Ashford’s graduation ceremony in April was disrupted when a storm caused the stage at the university’s athletic campus along South 14th Street to collapse.

University officials canceled the graduation ceremonies set for Saturday, sending thousands of graduates and their guests to the main campus where fire codes required they wait outside in the wind and rain before receiving their diplomas.

Although Saturday’s events were canceled, the graduation ceremony planned for that Sunday went as scheduled.

Those who were affected by the cancelation Saturday were invited to participate.

The Clinton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau estimated nearly 10,000 graduates and guests attended the ceremonies in April, leaving an economic impact anticipated to reach almost $4 million.

The previous graduation ceremony, held in October of last year, did not face similar misfortune. Nearly 1,000 graduates took part in the graduation ceremony as planned at the South 14th Street athletic complex.   

Director of the CVB, Marsha Smith, said last October’s graduation brought $514,000 into the Clinton area.  With the “rollover effect” taken into consideration, Ashford’s October 2011 graduation produced an economic impact of more than $3 million.

The CVB estimated from Oct. 20 to Oct. 24 last year, the area hosted more than 5,000 visitors because of the graduation.   

Although Ashford will not hold the graduation ceremony in Clinton, Smith was informed that the university will hold a family festival at Ashford University Field on Oct. 13.

Smith is hopeful the family celebration will still bring people and a positive impact to Clinton.

“I don’t think it will really affect us,” Smith said of the university’s decision to move the graduation ceremony more than 40 miles away.

“My guess would be the people who have kids who want to be involved with this festival will stay here,” she said.