Commencement this spring may take place on the Merrick Hall terrace, as long as construction stays on schedule.
“Merrick Hall as one of our oldest and most historic buildings is a natural backdrop for commencement, the most important event of the year,” President Rock Jones said.
Peter Schantz, the director of the physical plant, said the intention has always been to have Merrick as the site for commencement. The question is whether it will be ready in time for the upcoming ceremony in spring 2015.
In the past, commencement has been held on Phillips Glen and the patio of Phillips Hall was used for the stage. While not positive about how long commencement has taken place there, the Provost Chuck Stinemetz said he graduated there in 1983.
“The decision to move commencement to Merrick Hall was driven by both the physical challenges of holding graduation in the existing site and the advantages afforded by the Merrick site,” Stinemetz said.
There were many difficulties with the site at Phillips, such as faculty seating, line of sight for families and photography Stinemetz said. By moving commencement to a more central location in the quad area they hope to eliminate most of these problems.
“We are currently planning for graduation to take place in front of Merrick,” Stinemetz said. “However, we do have back up plans including the possibility of it returning to the Phillips patio or taking place on the lawn in front of University Hall.”
Construction at Merrick is on schedule at this time, but there have been some unforeseen challenges, which are to be expected in a nearly 150-year-old building Schantz said.
For example, constructions crews had to replace the water service to the building, which they were not anticipating.
While the terrace is in place, there are other aspects that need to be completed before the area is ready for commencement. They plan to install a new door on the south façade of the building in the center of the terrace. Also, a new driveway will hopefully be going in this fall in front of the site.