VAWS - Before the Cap and Gown: Getting the UT Campus Ready for Commencement

May 1, 2016

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Part of the Values at Work Series

The University of Texas at Austin has come a long way since its first commencement ceremony. But one thing that hasn’t changed in all the years leading up to the 133rd Spring Commencement is the entire university community’s expectations for maintaining the honor and dignity of the occasion. What does it take to make the campus ready for commencement and to meet those high expectations? To find out, we went behind the scenes with one of the primary departments involved in creating this annual ritual: Facilities Services.

Planning & Scheduling

An event of this size and significance requires a great deal of planning up front. It also requires good communication and collaboration among all the groups involved. This year, the event was held on Saturday evening, May 21, 2016. Planning began well in advance of commencement, as early as January. To begin, a comprehensive work order was established by Campus Construction (CC) to support University Events, who is responsible for orchestrating the university-wide ceremony. This work order provided the essential details for what was needed, where and when. With that information, Facilities Services teams were assigned accordingly to carry out the necessary tasks. A master schedule was followed, which helped everyone stay on track.

The master schedule, construction of the main stage, electrical support and other contributing tasks are managed by CC, with whom Facilities Services (FS) works closely throughout the entire process. CC sends out the master schedule around 10 days prior to the main event. FS teams meet with CC to discuss any particulars of the current year. For example, security concerns were high in the year when the Boston Marathon bombings occurred. As the teams run through the schedule, they also discuss any changes from the previous year, such as when seating added on University Avenue resulting in an additional area for the FS grounds crew to prep and clean-up.