Graduation on the Palouse typically brings images of springtime to mind.
But the past several years, both Washington State University and the University of Idaho have held December commencement ceremonies. On Saturday, more than 600 students will graduate in Pullman, and about 860 will graduate in Moscow.
“This is our fifth year, and it’s our biggest one,” said Teri Nelson, commencement coordinator for WSU.
It’s UI’s eighth December commencement.
The ceremonies have become more popular as the traditional four-year college education has splintered into other shapes, such as older students who return for classes and students who stop and start along the way to a degree.
It means more and more students finish outside of the typical cycle, and the schools wanted to find a way to note their graduations without forcing them to return to campus months after earning their diplomas.
Nelson said that five years ago, when WSU had its first December ceremony, about 380 students graduated. This year, it’s about 640. That’s still a small portion of overall WSU graduates, which usually number about 5,400 in a year, counting graduate students and undergrads.
Nelson said it’s important to make the midyear event more than a mini-version of the spring commencement. “I don’t want to have just a scaled-down version for fall,” she said.