Sacramento State will end winter commencement in 2018

What does an expensive Golden 1 Center graduation look like?

Elk Grove Unified’s graduation bill nearly doubled to $195,293 this year after its ceremonies were moved to the Golden 1 Center.
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Elk Grove Unified’s graduation bill nearly doubled to $195,293 this year after its ceremonies were moved to the Golden 1 Center.

Sacramento State President Robert S. Nelsen announced Wednesday that the university will end winter commencement in 2018 but intends to keep holding May graduation ceremonies at the Golden 1 Center.

After one final round of Winter Commencement ceremonies on Dec. 15-16, all graduations - spring, summer and fall - will take place in May, according to a letter Nelsen sent to the campus community.

The university moved its graduation ceremonies to the new downtown arena after Sleep Train Arena stopped hosting major public events in December. But the high cost of the new venue led some to question whether Sacramento State should find a cheaper location for commencement.

The university paid $151,600 to hold six graduation ceremonies over two days - more than double what it had paid at Sleep Train.

The university on Wednesday did not directly say whether ending winter commencement ceremonies was a cost-saving measure.

“We are constantly evaluating our commencement ceremonies in relation to their structure and cost,” said Craig Koscho, university spokesman. “We are the only one of the 10 largest CSUs to hold two ceremonies a year. After speaking to other CSUs and reviewing our procedures, we decided that one ceremony per year is the right decision for us at this time.”

He said Nelsen considered input from across the campus before making the decision.

Wednesday’s letter seemed to end speculation that future May ceremonies would be moved elsewhere.

“We are excited about the opportunities at Golden 1 Center for the Hornet family, but change requires flexibility. As many know, we had to make substantial changes to the Spring 2017 ceremonies, and we will need to adjust further for this winter,” Nelsen wrote. “As such, we will continue to revisit our ceremonies and plans, but for the future, we have made the difficult decision to hold graduation ceremonies only in May.”

The city of Sacramento lowered Sacramento State’s spring graduation bill by $50,000 from the original estimate of $190,595 by donating three of the free days the city receives each year to hold civic events at Golden 1 Center. The city provided a $255 million subsidy toward the arena’s construction.

University officials have been in contact with the city about the possibility of having days donated again, Koscho said. “They gave us three civic days last May and we appreciate their generosity,” he said.

Diana Lambert: 916-321-1090, @dianalambert