AUSTIN, Texas—The University of Texas at Austin evening Commencement ceremony, which last year drew 21,000 people to campus, will highlight a weekend of festivities (May 21-23) designed to honor nearly 6,000 undergraduate and graduate degree candidates.
The celebration marks the 116th observance of UT’s spring graduation. The capstone event, Saturday’s (May 22) University-wide ceremony on the South Terrace, has become such a popular and anticipated experience that seating capacity has increased again this year. A new seating location providing 500 seats has been added on the east side of the Tower. In addition, 1,200 air-conditioned seats will be available in Hogg Auditorium, where the ceremony will be projected on a large screen. Air conditioned seating also will be available in Flawn Academic Center room 21 and in Batts Auditorium.
The evening celebration, which in the last four years has become a program high on pageantry and ceremony, is open to the general public. Admission is free, and the night promises to be one filled with music, architectural lighting, colorful regalia, dramatic fireworks and the triumphant lighting of the Tower. Seating will be on a first-come, first-serve basis, and four video screens will be installed to provide the audience with a better view of the activities on stage. Festivities begin at 7 p.m., with the carillon prelude, followed by the Commencement concert and grand procession of graduates and faculty members.
Dr. William S. Livingston, renowned UT professor of political science, author and administrator, will deliver the main Commencement address. Senior Vice President Livingston, who has been called “the conscience, the soul, the memory, the wit and the wise elder statesman” of the University, has held numerous positions on campus including chairman of the government department and acting president. This year marks his 50th at UT Austin.
“Dr. Livingston is a superb speaker with a valuable perspective,” said University President Larry R. Faulkner. “Part of the UT story this year is the reopening of the Tower observation deck (fall 1999), which identifies and symbolizes the University community. I can’t think of a better person to reflect on this than Bill Livingston.”
To highlight Commencement’s celebration of the Tower and herald the reopening of the observation deck, the traditional fireworks display will be even more spectacular, according to Chan Chandler, production manager of the evening ceremony. “In addition to the majestic display of pyrotechnics that frame the Tower with aerial ïchrysanthemums’ and cascade off the Main Building, there will be an aerial display launched from observation deck of the Tower that promises a view of the festivities from all across Austin,” he said. This highlight of the evening will be augmented by special Tower illumination, cyberlights projecting from the roof of the Main Building onto the Tower.
The music at the Saturday night event will have a Texana theme celebrating Southwestern and Mexican heritage. There also is a new piece especially commissioned for Commencement 1999. The herald trumpet fanfare, written in the medieval antiphonal call and response style, will be showcased during the processional. Trumpeters will be located up and down the Main and South Malls. The University Wind Ensemble, the Chamber Singers and Concert Chorale will be featured in the pre-Commencement concert.
In case of rain, the ceremony will be moved to the Frank C. Erwin Center at 15th and Red River streets. The decision to move the event indoors will be made by the UT Office of the President late Saturday afternoon. The media will be notified.
Graduates will be recognized individually at their college and school convocations, not at the Saturday evening ceremony. These ceremonies will take place Friday through Sunday of Commencement weekend.
The Office of Public Affairs has set up a phone number, (512) 232-9999, to provide general information about the main graduation ceremony, college and school convocations and updated weather plans. The number will be available beginning Friday morning (May 21).