Complications with holding indoor commencement ceremonies at several campus locations in case of rain have sent Kansas University officials back to the drawing board to devise a new contingency plan.
After officials announced that KU's 119th commencement ceremonies at Memorial Stadium would be canceled if it rained on May 19, complaints from students, parents, faculty and staff prompted the commencement committee to rethink its planning. The tentative plan was to have a series of ceremonies using Allen Fieldhouse, Hoch Auditorium and Crafton-Preyer Theatre in Murphy Hall.
On Wednesday, however, the committee decided that having a series of ceremonies in different locations would be too difficult to pull off, and opted instead to have two consecutive ceremonies in Allen Fieldhouse in case of rain.
JAMES SCALLY, assistant to the chancellor and coordinator of commencement, said that if it's raining at 1 p.m. May 19, the outdoor procession and ceremony scheduled to begin at 2:30 p.m. will be postponed until 4 p.m. At 4 p.m., an announcement will be made about the location of the ceremony.
If rains have cleared by 4 p.m., graduates will gather at 5 p.m. along Memorial Drive for a 5:30 p.m. procession into Memorial Stadium. If there's still bad weather, ceremonies for College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and Graduate School students will start at 5 p.m. at Allen Fieldhouse. Students in all other schools will attend a 7 p.m. graduation ceremony at the fieldhouse.
Scally said the decision to change rain plans was made because there would have been "too many ceremonies too close together."
"And this is also much closer to a real ceremony," he said.
About 3,500 KU students are expected to participate in commencement ceremonies. Local hotels and motels have been booked for commencement weekend for about a year.
KU OFFICIALS said it would not be appropriate to postpone ceremonies until May 20 because out-of-town commencement guests might not be able to find overnight accommodations.
Contacted this morning, Marion Dyer, a Lawrence senior who had helped organize a protest of KU's plan to cancel commencement in case of rain, said she didn't want to comment on the plan until she had a chance to talk to university officials and other students.
According to the National Weather Service in Topeka, the general outlook for the next few weeks calls for above-normal precipitation and normal temperatures. A forecaster said there normally is a 35 to 40 percent chance of rain on any given day in May, and normal temperatures for May are in the mid- to upper-70s.