The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

October 6, 2012

BIELEMA: Ashford should move event back to Clinton

By Charlene Bielema
Herald Editor

CLINTON — There will be a lot to celebrate when Ashford University’s graduates arrive in Clinton the weekend of Oct. 13 to mark the end of this stage of their educational journeys.

For example, a master’s hooding ceremony will take place Oct. 13 in Kehl Arena, located in the Durgin Education Center on Ashford’s Clinton campus.

Students will be recognized for their achievements as well as be hooded by the dean or executive dean of their college.

Later that day in Kehl Arena, students who have earned university honors or been inducted into an honor society can attend a reception recognizing their accomplishments. And from 2 to 7:30 p.m that day, graduates and current students will be offered food, games and a place to socialize at the Ashford Commencement Celebration at Ashford University Field.

Events also will include a faculty “meet and greet,” a barbecue, photo opportunities with Ashford University President Elizabeth Tice, Provost Rebecca Wardlow and Champ, Ashford’s St. Bernard mascot, and a fireworks show.

But for the first time, there will be one very major component missing from the roster of Clinton events.

The graduation ceremony itself.

That’s because when the more than 1,200 graduates walk across the stage to accept their diplomas on Oct. 14 in front of an estimated 5,000 guests, they will do it in Moline, Ill., at the iWireless Center.

This no doubt has something to do with the disruption of last spring’s commencement ceremonies when a storm damaged a stage set up at Ashford’s outdoor venue in Clinton, where graduation ceremonies have taken place before.

After that April storm, there was a lot of waiting and wondering going on as graduates and their families awaited word on how and where diplomas would be distributed.

Of course, having an inside venue ready as a backup is a necessary part of any outdoor ceremony plan. But what we are wondering is if it was necessary to move the ceremony out of Clinton altogether?

One idea we have is to break down the ceremonies over a couple days, based on the students’ educational disciplines, and then those ceremonies can take place in a Clinton venue, such as Yourd Gym or Ashford’s own Kehl Arena.

Clinton is where the university is located.

Shouldn’t Clinton be the place where all future celebrations — and commencement itself — occur?

Charlene R. Bielema has been employed with the Clinton Herald since June 1995. She has been the Herald’s editor since 2002.