Preparing diplomas takes teamwork

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Editor’s note: This is the second in a three-part Commencement preparation series. Look for the third part in the May/June issue of NDWorks. 

Commencement Weekend is next month, May 17-19, but the Office of the Registrar has been preparing for months. This month, it’s time to assemble and organize the diplomas. 

Starting the first week of April, Commencement and Records Specialist Amy Jennings prints diplomas out on two special diploma printers. She does so in batches, according to college and/or department. Diploma information is collected from the graduation applications filled out by students and information from the database (degree, date, signatures, Latin honors). Jennings checks each printed diploma for accuracy. 

Assistant Registrar Kim Hahn then coordinates a sorting system of boxes, so diplomas are placed in the correct order. Registrar staff then place the diplomas into diploma covers, plastic shields and outer envelopes marked with student names and college/department. 

A daily report indicates changes to the graduation list. Jennings prints additional diplomas when students are added to the list. Hahn and Academic and Veteran Affairs Compliance Specialist Christina Wojtysiak make corresponding changes within the diploma boxes.

One of the most significant changes to the diplomas comes after final grades are entered on May 13. On average, 160 Latin honors change based on the student’s cumulative GPA. Jennings prints new diplomas to be placed into those students’ diploma envelopes. (An example of a Latin honor is magna cum laude.)  

Senior Communications Specialist Stephanie Maenhout assembles the Commencement program each year.

Some students are confused to find the Commencement program doesn’t always include up-to-date honors information. That’s because it goes to press before May 13 and content is based on the fall semester’s GPA. Students whose Latin honors changed from fall to spring will receive an updated Commencement program in August. 

The Friday prior to Commencement ceremonies, the registrar’s office delivers the diplomas to the colleges and/or departments. The Law School, the Graduate School and Mendoza College of Business Graduate Business ceremonies take place on Saturday, May 18, and the undergraduate diploma ceremonies are on Sunday, May 19. All registrar staff are assigned to a diploma ceremony contact person and attend the diploma ceremonies in case assistance is required. 

There are cases in which a student will not receive an official diploma. He or she may have a hold on his or her account (financial, dean’s or library), or perhaps the student already received a diploma in August 2018 or January 2019 or will graduate in August but want to walk with the Class of 2019. In these cases, the student’s name is read during the diploma ceremony, but he or she receives a blank diploma cover inside their envelope. Only the student would know that this was the case. 

Once the diploma ceremonies are complete, any remaining diplomas are returned to the Office of the Registrar for distribution to students who did not attend Commencement. 

Visit for information about the weekend.