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Posted: September 27, 2012 9:01 p.m.

Fall GPC graduates must wait to walk

Georgia Perimeter College students who were looking to graduate during a fall commencement ceremony in December will now have to wait until May 2013 to walk across the stage.

According to an email sent to GPC students on Sept. 14 from Rob Watts, GPC's interim president, the Commencement Committee decided to cancel its fall commencement ceremony at the Clarkston campus gymnasium and rescheduled it for Friday, May 3, 2013 at the Atlanta Civic Center. The fall commencement ceremony was originally scheduled for Dec. 14.

Watts said the college has seen a steady increase in the number of students and guests attending both fall and spring commencement programs over the past three years and they have had issues with seating space at the Clarkston campus.

He said the Commencement Committee recommended that the college have a single commencement ceremony at the Atlanta Civic Center during the spring 2012 semester. He said the committee reviewed other location options that would accommodate the school's growing number of students participating.

"Utilizing the Atlanta Civic Center will allow the college to have one commencement program that will comfortably accommodate all our students, guests, faculty and staff," he said. "In addition, shifting from two commencement programs to one program at the Atlanta Civic Center will save the college approximately $14,000."

Some students at the GPC Newton County campus expressed their disapproval of the decision to cancel the fall commencement ceremony.

Angela Belcher said her family has already made arrangements to attend her graduation ceremony in December and she was heartbroken to find out the ceremony was rescheduled. She sent an email to the school's administration and spoke with school officials on the phone addressing why she was inconvenienced after the change.

"I really don't appreciate this change," Belcher said. "I have children who live in San Diego and Virginia that have already purchased tickets for this very special day for me. I worked so hard for this day and for this to change less than three months is not a great thing for those of us who [prepared] for Dec. 14."

Marissa Lattimore said she did not think the change was fair for students who planned on graduating in December to return back for a commencement ceremony in May.

"Most people transfer on to another school and they go out of state. Who would come back to a commencement [ceremony] all the way in May?" she asked. "I've been here for two years and [when I finish] with Georgia Perimeter, I'll be transferring to another school in Florida. For me to take a flight in May is crazy to me."

Coletta Carter, assistant vice president for student development and special programs, echoed what Watts said in his email. She said the change was made because the institution has faced financial challenges but more importantly, the school was outgrowing their current facility for graduation.

Carter said the college had to make a decision to change the ceremony in order to accommodate future graduations.

"I don't think the administration would make a move that they didn't feel was in the best interests for the college overall," Carter said.

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