Spring 2019 will feature the first three-day Commencement for Sac State, May 17-19, bringing together thousands of graduates and their friends and families to celebrate at Golden 1 Center in downtown Sacramento. (Sacramento State/Andrea Price)

Sacramento State returns to Golden 1 Center for three days – May 17-19 – to celebrate the academic achievements of graduating students during Spring Commencement ceremonies. 

“I am incredibly proud of all of our students,” said University President Robert S. Nelsen, who will preside over the ceremonies. “I look forward to seeing many of them at Golden 1 Center celebrating with their friends and families.

"Stingers Up!”

A record 9,320 students, including current graduates, pending summer graduates, and credential candidates, are eligible to walk in eight ceremonies for the University’s seven academic colleges. The University had its final Winter Commencement in December 2017 and now holds just one set of ceremonies each year. 

Spring 2019 marks the first time Commencement has run over three days. 

The addition of a third day was required because of so many eligible students and a desire to limit the length of each ceremony to less than 2½ hours. It also allowed the University to offer each student at least eight guest tickets.

Another first in 2019 finds the two largest colleges, Health & Human Services and Social Sciences & Interdisciplinary Studies, holding consecutive split ceremonies. Those colleges have a combined 4,218 eligible students. 

The full Commencement schedule:

Friday, May 17

1 p.m.: College of Arts & Letters (1,410 students)

6:30 p.m.: College of Engineering & Computer Science (949), and College of Natural Sciences & Mathematics (545).

Saturday, May 18

8 a.m. – College of Health & Human Services (2,184) Ceremony A, for Criminal Justice, Kinesiology, Health Science, Nursing.

1:30 p.m. – Ceremony B, for Communication Sciences and Disorders, Recreation Parks and Tourism Administration, Social Work.

6:30 p.m. – College of Business Administration (1,174).

Sunday, May 19

8 a.m. – College of Social Sciences & Interdisciplinary Studies (2,034) Ceremony A, for Anthropology, Environmental Studies, Liberal Studies, Psychology, Public Policy and Administration, Sociology, and Social Science.

1:30 p.m. – Ceremony B, for Asian Studies, Economics, Ethnic Studies, Gerontology, Family & Consumer Sciences, Government, and Women’s Studies.

6:30 p.m. – College of Education (805).

Several special recognitions are planned during Spring Commencement.

Two women – Marlene Marie von Friederichs-Fitzwater and Hazel Witten Mahone – will receive Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degrees from Sacramento State and the California State University (CSU). Beverly “Bev” Gerth, wife of former Sac State President Donald R. Gerth, will be awarded the President's Medal for Distinguished Service.

The honorees’ accomplishments are impressive: 

  • Von Friederichs-Fitzwater, professor emeritus of Communication Studies, in 1989 founded the nonprofit Health Communication Research Institute (HCRI) to reduce healthcare disparities in underrepresented minorities. After her grandson died homeless, she refocused HCRI's efforts on the homeless population. She plans to open a hospice for terminally ill homeless men and women this fall. Von Friederichs-Fitzwater will be recognized with an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters during the College of Arts & Letters ceremonies at 1 p.m. Friday, May 17. 
  • Mahone is professor emeritus of Education and former superintendent of the Grant Joint Union High School District. She founded the Vision 2000 Educational Foundation and its College Prep Math & Reading Academy. Each summer, Vision 2000 holds a camp for disadvantaged K-8 schoolchildren at Sac State. The Hazel Mahone College Prep was named in her honor in 2015. Mahone will be recognized with an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters during the College of College of Education ceremonies at 6:30 p.m. Sunday, May 19. 
  • Beverly “Bev” Gerth devoted more than 45 years to the California State University (CSU) alongside her husband, who was Sacramento State’s president from 1984-2003. Sac State’s Special Collections & University Archives bears the couple’s names. She will receive the President’s Medal for Distinguished Service during the College of Social Sciences & Interdisciplinary Studies ceremonies at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, May 19. 

In addition, Sac State will present a posthumous degree to the family of Sacramento County Sheriff’s Deputy Mark V. Stasyuk, who was killed in the line of duty Sept. 17, 2018. Stasyuk will be honored during the College of Health & Human Services ceremonies at 8 a.m. Saturday, May 18. 

Golden 1 Center has proven to be popular with the Sac State crowd at every Commencement ceremony. Students and others who use #SacStateGrad hashtag on social media may see their messages posted on a giant video monitor above the main floor of the arena. – Dixie Reid