Advertisement

Archive for Friday, May 15, 1998

CITY TO REAP BENEFITS OF KU GRADUATION

May 15, 1998

Advertisement

Some 4,000 Kansas University students are expected Sunday afternoon to file en masse down the Campanile as part of the 126th commencement.

(Cue music). Here they come, walking down the Hill.

Hey, hey, they're the Jayhawks!

And their parents, friends, aunts, uncles and grandparents.

This weekend, as an estimated 30,000 relatives and acquaintances of Kansas University graduates-to-be descend upon Lawrence, hotel check-in desks will be mobbed, restaurants, theaters and bars will be packed and streets will be clogged with rental cars.

In fact, the Lawrence Convention and Visitors Bureau considers it another ``million dollar weekend,'' generating about as much revenue as a KU home football game.

``They spend lots of money,''said Judy Billings, director of the bureau. "It's all a guessing game, but the one thing we do know is it's a significant economic impact.''

But at the tail end of this annual invasion, about 4,000 students in noble, black regalia and multi-colored tassels will saunter down the hill Sunday afternoon, grab their seats and throw their caps.

Jeff Weinberg, assistant to the chancellor, said graduation organizers were breathing easier Thursday as a forecast that had called for Sunday rain began to clear.

``We're all feeling a little bit better today,'' Weinberg said.

Members of the class of 1998 are expected to gather along Memorial Drive about 2 p.m. Sunday. The official walk down the hill will start at 2:30 p.m., with the program to follow about 3:30 p.m.

Memorial Drive will be closed to traffic all day. Free parking is available throughout campus, and buses will run continuously from 11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.

There are about 5,600 in this year's graduating class, including summer, fall and spring honorees.

Robert Talkington, chair of the Kansas Board of Regents; Kenneth Havner, regents member; Cordell Meeks Jr., chair of the KU Alumni Association; and Chancellor Robert Hemenway will offer remarks. Hemenway will confer degrees.

As for KU's Memorial Stadium, which has seen quite a bit of construction in recent months, the entire east side of the stadium will be closed. In addition, there will be no permanent restrooms or concession stands open. Portable restrooms will be made available, as will water and soft drinks.

Inside Memorial Stadium, students will be sitting in the north bowl, whereas audience members will sit on the west side.

``I think everything is in place for a very traditional KU commencement,'' Weinberg said.

Rain the morning of commencement will prompt an announcement, at noon, about arrangements for a postponed ceremony. Announcements will be made through the Journal-World's Access line, 865-5000, category 5008, KU Information Center, 864-3506, over area radio stations and on Sunflower Cablevision.

If the weather begins to clear that afternoon, it will be rescheduled at 4:30 p.m. If the weather does not begin to clear by then, a second attempt will be made at 6:30 p.m.

If it is still raining, the ceremony will be postponed until Monday.

-- Matt Gowen's phone message number is 832-7222. His e-mail address is mgowen@ljworld.com.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.