In order to accommodate the nearly 20,000 people expected to attend this year’s commencement ceremonies, Yale will host an additional baccalaureate service, bringing the total number to three.
The baccalaureate service — which includes hymns, prayers and addresses by Yale President Richard Levin and Yale College Dean Richard Brodhead — is held each year in Woolsey Hall, a venue with approximately 2,000 seats. University Deputy Secretary Martha Highsmith said the third service will allow more seniors and their guests to see the event live.
“All of the people who come want to take part in every event that goes on, and we have really been feeling the pinch, if you will, in terms of the baccalaureate service,” Highsmith said. “[The third service] really allows people to come and see it firsthand, and I think that’s a big improvement.”
In past years, officials have arranged for closed-circuit broadcasts to other locations on campus.
While many other universities employ a ticket system to restrict the number of attendees, Yale does not require tickets for admission to the services. Instead, the University has adapted over the past few years in order to allow students to invite an unlimited number of guests.
Commencement Coordinator Lauralee Field said in recent years the University has set up a large-screen projection of the commencement activities on Old Campus and also increased the number of volunteers working the event.
“People are delighted to participate,” Field said. “People at the [the Human Relations Department] or the Chaplain’s Office or the library service, they just feel part of this place and they really do enjoy working Commencement — We make an effort to include [people from] all segments of this University.”
On May 25, seniors will assemble for Class Day activities, which include an address by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Thomas Friedman.
Class Day co-chair Chris Michel ’03 said this year’s Class Day will be much like that of previous years, with seniors participating in traditions such as donning creative hats, listening to a class history and receiving various undergraduate awards. New this year is a class song that seniors wrote and will perform.
“For undergraduates, Class Day is particularly exciting because it’s just our class and all of the activities are sort of tailored to helping us celebrate our four years here,” Michel said.
Michel is the former editor in chief of the Yale Daily News.
Field said the threat of inclement weather always looms over the weekend’s activities, which are held outside regardless of the weather. She said the University provides ponchos for students and most of their guests in the case of rain.
But Field said she is looking forward to the weekend, regardless of the weather.
“May the sun shine on the Class of 2003, that’s all I have to say,” she said.