Sendoff for the summer

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Nasreen Karimi, about to receive her psychology degree from the University of North Texas, wears a graduation cap decorated with LED lights Saturday while awaiting the start of summer commencement ceremonies at the UNT Coliseum.
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UNT marks its last August graduation ceremony, for now

More than 1,000 students graduated from the University of North Texas on Saturday, in the two final summer commencement ceremonies for UNT — at least for now.

The 1 p.m. ceremony for the College of Merchandising, Hospitality and Tourism, College of Engineering and College of Arts and Sciences was the last of three summer ceremonies that graduated more than 1,800 students.

Next year, President Neal Smatresk hopes the summer graduates will be able to participate in a larger May ceremony instead.

“You never say it’s the last forever, but for now, we’re discontinuing them,” he said.

The summer ceremonies are categorized as being smaller and a little warmer than the December and May graduations. Steven Cobb, associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, said he thinks students will be excited to trade in the smaller experience for a larger May ceremony.

“I think it’s something the students won’t miss because if we’re able to offer a real spectacle in the spring, they will be much more excited in participating in that,” Cobb said.

Provost Warren Burggren said he too is excited to see how a larger spring ceremony goes, but once he gets on a roll attending three or five ceremonies in a few days, he isn’t quite ready for the graduations to be over.

“Every one of these is nostalgic,” Burggren said. “I know every time graduation is over — maybe we’ve had three or five ceremonies — I leave and say, ‘Let’s do another one.’”

This summer’s ceremonies combined some of the colleges together since the group was small, and divided summer grads into three ceremonies. The first on Friday graduated master’s and doctoral candidates and set a university record for the most Ph.D.s given out in a ceremony — 230, Smatresk said.

The two ceremonies on Saturday, at 9 a.m. and 1 p.m., divided the groups of undergraduate students.

With the move to the discontinue summer ceremonies, UNT joins neighbor Texas Woman’s University, which stopped holding summer ceremonies in 2001.

Cobb, who has worked for UNT since 1989, said the 1 p.m. ceremony was a bit sad since it could be his last summer ceremony, but he’s ready to start new traditions at commencement.

“It’s sad, but it’s exciting at the same time,” he said. “For all the years that I’ve been here, the summer ceremony has been a tradition, but what we’re talking about for a much bigger spring ceremony is really something exciting that we’re all looking forward to.”

JENNA DUNCAN can be reached at 940-566-6889 and via Twitter at @JennaFDuncan.

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