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Circumstances relocate the pomp

SOU moves graduation ceremony to campus stadium so that more can get a better view

ASHLAND ' Southern Oregon University's commencement moves permanently to the campus Saturday after at least 55 years at the bandshell in Lithia Park.

About 800 graduates are expected to participate in the 9 a.m. ceremony at Mountain Arena, the name given to Raider Stadium, the university's football and track field, for the event. In all 1,160 students earned degrees.

The Lithia Park ceremony went back at least to 1947. Art Kreisman, emeritus university historian, attended commencement there that year, his first on the faculty. He has been unable to locate records showing an earlier date.

University officials moved the ceremony because it outgrew the park. In recent years there was seating for 800 graduates and a few hundred guests. Others dotted the hills or stood in tree groves to see the graduates. The new arrangement will provide seating for 5,000, including graduates.

— A much larger percentage of those who attend will be much better accommodated in terms of seating and ability to see and hear, said Bruce Moats, physical plant director.

Access for disabled persons will be better, said Moats. Guests can park on campus and a shuttle bus will run from the Mountain Avenue parking lot to the stadium.

About &

36;10,000 was spent on 65 trees and shrubs and flowers to beautify the site. Grandstands received fresh paint. A cover will go over the scoreboard and the goalposts' cross arms and uprights have been removed. Plants and other decor will be brought in for the stadium and the covered stage.

Overtime cost will be reduced because the university will no longer have to set up on a Friday and remove equipment and chairs by Saturday afternoon, said Moats.

Another first this year is a graduating senior speaker. English literature major Elizabeth Beta Hurley was selected by a campus committee to give the address.

Reach Ashland bureau reporter Tony Boom at 482-4651, or e-mail