Commencement Timeline

May, 1992 – GW President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg creates a unified Commencement ceremony on the Ellipse.

May, 1995 – Lightning storm cancels the Commencement ceremony on the Ellipse, leaving many parents and students upset about the lack of a backup

April, 1997 – The GW Hatchet reports discussion of moving Commencement to MCI Center, a new arena being built in downtown Washington.

November, 1997 – Trachtenberg forms a 30-member committee to evaluate Commencement Weekend and possible alternative venues for the ceremony.

November 18, 1997 – More than 400 students attend a Commencement town hall meeting, voicing concern about a possible move to the MCI

December 2, 1997 – The MCI Center opens its doors.

December 9, 1997 – Committee members and concerned students tour the MCI Center. GW Law School Associate Dean John Jenkins, the Committee’s chair, says, “Because of the overwhelming student desire to have it on the Ellipse, I would suspect, based on that, that it will be the consensus of the Committee.”

January 15, 1998 – The Hatchet reports that on the day before a recommendation is scheduled, the Committee still lacks cost information for the MCI Center.

January 16, 1998 – In a unanimous decision, the Commencement Committee recommends keeping Commencement on the Ellipse and discontinuing University funding of Monumental Celebration. Students buying their own regalia and other fees are proposed.

February 6, 1998 – In a letter to Jenkins, Trachtenberg announces his support of Commencement on the Ellipse and commits University funding for Monumental Celebration.

-Source: The GW Hatchet and “Report to the President from the Commencement Committee”

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