Campus News

Changes to spring Commencement ceremonies due to Stegeman Coliseum repairs

In recent weeks, we have reached out to the University of Georgia community to provide information on Undergraduate and Graduate Commencement ceremonies in May. Today we are writing to inform you of some changes to these plans that are necessitated by ongoing repairs at Stegeman Coliseum. These changes primarily affect Graduate Commencement ceremonies but will also affect a few of the individual Convocation plans of our colleges and schools.

We announced on Thursday, March 2, that Stegeman Coliseum was closed indefinitely after a small piece of ceiling material was found the preceding day. Stegeman is an older concrete structure, and some cracking and flaking can be expected as such facilities age. UGA’s Facilities Management Division (FMD) has been closely monitoring the building since spring 2018, after a smaller piece of ceiling material was discovered. At that time, a consultant was hired to inspect the ceiling and make recommendations for repairs. The repairs were completed that summer, and no findings indicated the building was in any kind of structural distress.

In 2020, a second small piece was discovered. FMD again engaged an engineering firm to survey the ceiling and make repairs. Periodic condition assessments have been conducted since that time: while several small flakes have fallen, no conditions have indicated a hazard. During this time, the University also replaced the roof at Stegeman, taking proactive steps to minimize the amount of heat being absorbed and to reduce moisture infiltration.

FMD contracted with an engineering firm, Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates, Inc., to evaluate the ceiling and devise a more permanent solution. A second opinion was sought from a separate structural engineering firm, Walter P. Moore. Last Wednesday, on the day the Moore firm was scheduled for an onsite evaluation, a palm-sized piece of ceiling material was found—and, while still small, it was the largest piece discovered to date. The facility was immediately closed out of an abundance of caution. Safety is the University’s top priority, and the facility will not reopen until necessary repairs, improvements and inspections are completed—which could take several months.

Thus, events to be held in Stegeman Coliseum, including Graduate Commencement, must be relocated. We had previously informed those participating in the Graduate Commencement ceremonies that two separate ceremonies would be held for the first time this spring because of the large number of graduates—one to confer master’s and specialist degrees, and the other to confer doctoral degrees. However, due to the closure of Stegeman, the ceremonies will now be held in a single, combined ceremony at Sanford Stadium on Thursday, May 11 at 9:30 a.m. The back-up time in the event of inclement weather will be Friday, May 12 at 9:30 a.m. in Sanford Stadium. More information will be provided to graduates via email and through the Commencement website.

Several colleges and schools also had Commencement-related events planned for Stegeman Coliseum in May, which must now be relocated. These include Convocation for the Terry College of Business, as well as Commencement ceremonies for the College of Pharmacy, College of Veterinary Medicine, and School of Law. Graduates of these units should watch for more information directly from their colleges and schools as soon as those plans are finalized.

The University’s Undergraduate Commencement ceremony remains unchanged. It will be held in Sanford Stadium on Friday, May 12 at 7:30 p.m. Ticketing will be required for undergraduates for the first time because seats are limited by the ongoing construction in Sanford Stadium. Graduates will need a ticket to be on the field and may register for tickets for up to 6 guests. It is hoped that more guest tickets will be available; the exact number will be known on March 13, and more information will be sent to graduates at that time. Ticket registration will begin on March 20.

Please check the Commencement website for updates.