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Columbia University graduation ceremonies begin Friday after main commencement canceled

Columbia University holds first graduation of many since cancelling main ceremony
Columbia University holds first graduation of many since cancelling main ceremony 02:06

NEW YORK - Columbia University graduation ceremonies started taking place Friday.

This year, Columbia will not be holding the planned main ceremony on the South Lawn of the Morningside Heights campus. Dozens of smaller ceremonies are being held instead. 

Columbia University decided to cancel its main commencement after weeks of pro-Palestinian protests and turmoil on campus

Despite bringing in the NYPD, officials cited security concerns, and instead offered students smaller school-level ceremonies where they will be honored alongside their peers.

Students on both sides were frustrated with how it was handled. Faculty members addressed the situation in commencement speeches Friday.

"Recent events on and around campus have not exactly been a PR bonanza for the academic campaign to win back hearts and minds, so to restore our credibility I think we're going to have to turn to you, who are about to go forth into the world and deploy what you have learned here," one faculty member said.

Graduates of Columbia's professional studies program thankful to have opportunity to celebrate

The first graduation took place without incident Friday morning at the Baker Athletics Complex in Inwood, the new location for the majority of the ceremonies. About 1,000 students from the professional studies program graduated. 

Graduates said it was a day of excitement, and also relief, that they still get to graduate with their peers in front of their loved ones. 

"At least we got one ceremony for our graduation," Jennifer Zhen said. 

"On campus would've been great, but this is better," Samik Jheadla said. 

"She was really nervous that it was going to get canceled. We were going to come regardless, but we are glad that it didn't," Adrianna Zuniga said. Her sister is graduating Friday. 

"Honestly, I would be lying if I said that I wasn't bummed about 15th of May commencement being canceled. But in the grand scheme of things, I think what was happening on campus was more important, and I stand with it," graduate Maniha Hashmi said.

"It is a little bit sad. I wanted a little bit more festivity considering how much money I've paying for the university, but they're trying to  make the best of it so I hope it's goes quietly and smoothly," graduate Amber Van Den Heuvel said. 

Professors and parents say this generation of students has been through a lot.

"He missed his graduation in Ireland because of COVID, so that's why we decided we'd come for this graduation," said Elaine Gallagher, the mother of one graduate.

Columbia University officials say a great deal of effort is being made to ensure the ceremonies remain safe and respectful. 

The series of ceremonies will run until next Thursday. Tickets are required to attend. 

Schedule of Columbia commencement ceremonies

Friday, May 10
• 8:30 a.m. - Professional Studies, Morning Ceremony | Baker Athletics Complex
• 12:30 p.m. - Professional Studies, Afternoon Ceremony | Baker Athletics Complex
• 4:30 p.m. - Social Work | Baker Athletics Complex
• 5:30 p.m. - Columbia Climate School | The Forum

Saturday, May 11
• 8:00 a.m. - Business School, EMBA & PhD Candidates | Baker Athletics Complex
• 11:30 a.m. - Business School, MBA | Baker Athletics Complex
• Architecture, Planning and Preservation | St. Paul's Chapel

Sunday, May 12
• 8:00 a.m. - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, PhD | Baker Athletics Complex
• 10:00 a.m. - Baccalaureate Service | St. Paul's Chapel
• 11:00 a.m. - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, MA | Baker Athletics Complex
• 3:00 p.m. - The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science, Graduate Ceremony | Baker Athletics Complex

Monday, May 13
• 8:00 a.m. - Columbia School of General Studies | Baker Athletics Complex
• 11:45 a.m. - The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science, Undergraduate Ceremony | Baker Athletics Complex
• 3:30 p.m. - Law School | Baker Athletics Complex
• 7:30 p.m. - International and Public Affairs | Baker Athletics Complex

Tuesday, May 14
• 9:30 a.m. - Columbia College | Baker Athletics Complex
• 10:00 a.m. - School of Nursing | The Armory
• 10:00 a.m. - Physical Therapy | Alumni Auditorium, CUIMC
• 3:30 p.m. - Genetic Counseling | VEC 201, CUIMC
• 4:00 p.m. - Mailman School of Public Health | The Armory
• 5:00 p.m. - Business School, MS | David Geffen Hall, Manhattanville Campus
• Teachers College | United Palace Theatre

Wednesday, May 15
• 12:00 p.m. - Journalism School | Roone Arledge Auditorium, Lerner Hall
• 2:00 p.m. - Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons | The Armory
• 4:00 p.m. - Barnard College | Radio City Music Hall
• 7:00 p.m. - School of the Arts | Roone Arledge Auditorium, Lerner Hall
• Teachers College | United Palace Theatre

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