May 102013


ECU graduates celebrate as they make their way to their seats in Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium for spring commencement ceremonies Friday morning. (Rhett Butler)

ECU graduates celebrate as they make their way to their seats in Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium for spring commencement ceremonies Friday morning. (Rhett Butler)

By Katherine Ayers and Kristin Zachary

Friday, May 10, 2013

Nearly 4,000 collegians are looking to turn their tassels today as East Carolina University’s spring commencement ceremonies get underway.

A procession led by ECU’s class of 1963 will open the proceedings at 9 a.m. at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium. The class is celebrating its 50th reunion.

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Approximately 2,710 bachelor degree candidates and 982 graduate degree candidates will be receiving their degrees. Of these, 71 are from the Brody School of Medicine.

In a change from past ceremonies, graduates this year will sit on the field rather than in the stands to save time, according to ECU police Lt. Chris Sutton.

“It gives it a more intimate feel,” he said. Last year, students sat in Section 17, and “it took too much time to get everyone in.”

The commencement speaker is 1973 ECU graduate Valeria O. Lovelace, president and founder of Media Transformations, an educational research and production company that develops projects to promote learning and positive role models for children.

Through her work, Lovelace consulted on television programs such as “Go, Diego, Go” and “Little Einsteins.” She also is the adviser and creator of “Dora the Explorer” and worked with “Sesame Street” throughout the 1980s. She was counted among the “100 Incredible ECU Women” in 2007.

Lovelace currently is an adjunct professor at Bergen Community College and Fairleigh Dickinson University. A Mount Olive native, she holds master’s and doctoral degrees in social psychology from the University of Michigan.

Family members, friends and guests of graduates are not required to have tickets to attend the ceremonies and there is no limit to how many guests a graduate can invite.

Guests are encouraged to wear light-colored clothing and drink plenty of fluids to keep cool as temperatures are expected to reach the mid-80s, Sutton said.

Sutton said up to 12,000 people are expected to attend the ceremony, and it is important for guests to arrive early to secure a nearby space. General parking is available in the lots surrounding the stadium.

“By 8:30, there’s not going to be any parking around Ficklen or Minges,” he said. He encourages guests to arrive by 8 a.m. to avoid parking in outlying lots and longer walks to the stadium.

All guests should enter the stadium through the north stands and proceed to the seating area. Any items brought into the stadium are subject to search; no alcohol or fireworks are permitted.

Officers and event staff will be on hand in the stadium, and golf carts driven by volunteers will be available to assist the elderly and disabled.

Police also will be stationed at intersections near campus and in the parking lots to allow for a “smooth traffic pattern,” Sutton said.

Officers will be out as early as 7:30 a.m. to prevent problems “before Charles Boulevard becomes a parking lot,” he said. “Once it becomes a parking lot in the actual roadway, it makes it difficult to correct.”

Sutton said the traffic plan is meant to assist the university “to provide a safe environment for the community and the graduates as they celebrate their accomplishments.”

He advised community members not attending commencement to avoid the stadium area and choose alternate routes as a way to ease the expected congestion.

For more information about today’s ceremony, visit

Individual school and department ceremonies are scheduled throughout today and Saturday. Visit for a complete listing.

Contact Katherine Ayers at and 252-329-9567. Contact Kristin Zachary at and 252-329-9566. Follow them on Twitter @KatieAyersGDR and @kzacharygdr.

via The Daily Reflector.


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