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40th Commencement Exercises



Photo by Gary Kuwahara

CSU Dominguez Hills 40th Commencement Exercises: Tradition and Growth

[Commencement] is the highlight of the academic year and a time when we proudly present our product to the world.
- Loretta Adikhai, director, Events and Ceremonies

A new CSU Dominguez Hills spin on Commencement meets centuries-old tradition this year as the graduate and undergraduate Classes of 2006 will each have their own ceremony for the first time in 40 years, on Thursday, May 18 and Friday, May 19 respectively. Loretta Adikhai, director, Events and Ceremonies, cites the reasons behind splitting the Commencement.

“Our graduating class was and is growing,” she says. “Our students want their names
to be called at the main Commencement ceremony, and were not happy with the limits of the guest ticket policy. Last year we had more than 400 students attend the inaugural Master’s Hooding Ceremony, and the only step missing at this event was the conferral of degrees.  Many students did not come to graduation the next day because they felt the hooding ceremony was enough.”

This year, Thursday evening’s Hooding Ceremony will include the conferral of degrees. This reduction in the number of students participating in the main Commencement on Friday has resulted in the end of the guest ticket policy for that event and allows graduates to invite any number of family and friends. More than 500 master’s candidates are expected for the Thursday evening event; the undergraduate ceremony will celebrate approximately 1,500 students.

Adikhai, who along with a committee of students, faculty, staff and emeriti faculty, is planning the events, underscores the importance of remembering the ancient traditions behind Commencement rituals.

“Commencement celebrates one of the most important milestones in a student's life and a university's history,” she says.  “It is the highlight of the academic year and a time when we proudly present our product to the world. Many people today don't know the meaning behind many of the symbols of Commencement.  For example, the presidential mace carried during the processional is based on a club that was carried in the Middle Ages to protect both the church and civil authorities. Today, it can be displayed at any ceremony that the president presides over.  For Commencement, it is a symbol of the president's authority to award degrees to all students present, based on the faculty's recommendation. 

“An academic costume code and ceremony guide was first drafted in 1895 at Columbia University by a small group of men from various institutions of higher learning," Adikhai continues. "Colors were designated for the various disciplines, such as red for theology, purple for law, and green for medicine, and are now used to symbolize these fields in the master students’ hoods. There are also big differences between a bachelor's gown and a Ph.D. gown. It is important for students to participate in their Commencement ceremony so they can continue the pride in the heritage and traditions that extend back almost a thousand years.”

The keynote speaker for the graduate exercises is Ira J. Toibin, superintendent of schools, Palos Verdes Peninsula Unified School District. Toibin has led his district with an academic performance index score of 890, among the highest in the state.  Janice Bryant Howroyd, founder and chief executive officer, Act 1 Group of Companies, will deliver the keynote address for the undergraduate ceremony. Howroyd was named this year as one of the “50 Most Powerful Women in Business” by Black Enterprise Magazine.

Adikhai says she hopes that having achieved their degrees, the graduates will pass on another legacy.

“I hope this year’s graduates are inspired to go out and make a difference in the world,” she says. “I hope they don't forget their alma mater and that they will reach behind them and extend a hand to the next student trying to complete their education.”

For more information on the 2006 Commencement Exercises for graduates, families and visitors, visit

- Joanie Harmon


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Last updated Friday, May 12, 2006, 3:43 p.m., by Joanie Harmon