Rain or shine, about 1,400 undergraduates will graduate in the 166th College Commencement ceremony Sunday morning—at around 40 percent of the cost in previous years.

The annual standard student services budget has typically included close to $500,000 for Commencement costs, Roger L. Smith, Senior Financial Officer for the College, said in an email interview.

But because of budget cuts, this year’s Commencement, and Commencements going forward, will cost closer to $300,000.

When asked for detail about these budget changes, Smith said that “it relates to the staff support, which was a specific item of cost in prior years.”

“The providing office is now a part of the College, and there is no specific charge for staff effort for Commencement services,” he continued.

This money goes toward both the planning process and the event itself.

“Planning for Commencement is a year-long activity,” said Smith, that “involves coordination with many internal organizations”—such as Information Technology, Communications, and Public Safety—and external groups, too, like vendors and suppliers.

The entire planning process is overseen by Event and Classroom Management, as well as the Commencement Office and the President’s Office.

Along with supplies and catering, this money is also spent on renting equipment for the stage, audio-visual services, and facilities charges.

In addition to the Sunday ceremony on the Eastman Quadrangle, each department in the College hosts its own ceremony, in which graduates receive their physical diploma. These ceremonies are held across campus throughout the day. Seating for the overall ceremony is first-come, first-serve, and free.

Erica Fee ’99 will address seniors at the graduation ceremony.

Fee founded the First Niagara Rochester Fringe Festival, which, according to the University’s March press release announcing the choice, “has become a powerhouse festival for new theatre, comedy, music, dance and children’s entertainment in Upstate New York.”

Fee graduated from UR with a degree in political science, and was a Take Five Scholar, studying film, theatre, and anthropology.

After living in the United Kingdom for 10 years—as an actress running her own theatrical production company—Fee returned to Rochester, her native city. Her involvement in the Edinburgh Festival Fringe inspired her to become the “founding producer and board president,” according to the University’s announcement, of its Rochesterian sibling in 2009.

Previous Commencement speakers include Deborah Bial, founder of the Posse Foundation, Steven Chu, former Secretary of Energy and UR alumnus, and Chris Matthews of MSNBC.

University Spokesperson Sara Miller said that potential speakers “from all over the world” are considered, and that the group that decides—consisting of President and CEO Joel Seligman, the deans of the University, and student leaders from the senior Class Council, along with their faculty advisor—focuses on the speakers’ abilities to offer something valuable to the graduating class and their families based on their lives and professional experiences.

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