More than 5,600 Fresno State students are eligible to be among the first who will be conferred degrees by new President Joseph I. Castro at the university’s 103rd Commencement ceremony Saturday, May 17. The processional will begin at 9:30 a.m. at the Save Mart Center. Doors open at 8 a.m.

Saturday’s free (including parking), public Commencement is the centerpiece of two days of events that begin Friday, May 16, with 20 college and school convocations in addition to department and program celebrations throughout the day at multiple locations. (Only the Department of Social Work Education’s convocation is off campus at 9 a.m. Friday at the Woodward Park Amphitheater). The Craig School of Business Convocation kicks off Friday’s events at 8 a.m. at the Save Mart Center.

Some of the events require tickets based on the size of the graduating class and anticipated audience. For ticketing and contact information for each event, view the complete commencement schedule at the university’s upgraded Commencement website:

Live streaming – with captioning – will be available online for two events Saturday: the morning University Commencement and the 1 p.m. International Graduation Celebration in the Music Building Concert Hall where graduating international students representing 25 countries will be recognized.  The stage will be adorned with flags from each country. The broadcasts also will be available on the Fresno State YouTube page the week after Commencement.

The Class of 2014 includes 4,675 students who completed requirements for their baccalaureate degree, 890 students who have earned master’s and education specialist degrees and 69 students who earned doctorate degrees. Summa Cum Laude (with highest praise) distinction for a GPA of 3.9-4.0 was earned by 178 students; 37 students achieved perfect 4.0 GPAs. Forty-eight Smittcamp Family Honors College President’s Scholars are graduating with university honors.  

Typically, about 1,300students walk in the ceremony with many opting to participate in their respective college convocations or department/program celebrations.

The university’s official spring semester enrollment was  21,372 and fall was 23,060, an all-time high for both semesters.

Commencement activities began May 7 with the Nursing Graduate Pinning Ceremony, where the first cohort of 30 students in the Doctor of Nursing Practice program participated in a hooding ceremony. They will formally receive their doctoral hood and degree during the university commencement Saturday.

In addition to Castro’s first formal conferrals since taking the Fresno State presidency Aug.1, other firsts this year include the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered, Queer/Questioning (LGBTQ) Commencement Celebration at 2:30 p.m. Friday, May 16 in the Leon S. and Pete P. Peters Educational Center Auditorium.

At the main university ceremony in the morning, the university’s top graduate and undergraduate will be revealed — the President’s Medalist and the University Graduate Medalist. They are selected from among the 18 Dean’s Medalists representing the eight colleges/schools and the Student Affairs Division.

The announcement will be posted on the university’s Commencement website along with a photo gallery of the weekend’s activities.

Also Saturday morning, the university will posthumously award an honorary doctorate to the late Dr. Peter G. Mehas, a Fresno State alumnus, lifelong educator and former member of the California State University Board of Trustees.

Castro will confer the honorary Doctor of Humane Letters by authority of the CSU Board of Trustees, recognizing Mehas’ achievements, leadership and contributions locally, regionally and nationally. Castro will be joined in the presentation by CSU trustees Hugo Morales.

Demi Mehas will accept the honor on behalf of her late Bulldog alumnus husband, who died Sept. 27 in Fresno.

Other action includes the Provost’s Award recipient for Excellence in Teaching, Dr. Priscilla Chaffe-Stengel. A professor of information and decision sciences, Chaffe-Stengel joined the Fresno State faculty in 1984.

The Fresno State Air Force ROTC will present the colors and graduating music majors Sharon Rogers and Katherine Simmons will sing the National Anthem.

H. Dan Smith will lead the procession as grand marshal, one of the university’s longest tenured faculty members. Smith, who joined Fresno State’s faculty in 1978, is a professor in the Department of Counselor Education and Rehabilitation.

Graduating music students Ed Olivarez and Andrew Hernandez will sing the Alma Mater, accompanied by a student string quartet featuring Aimee Dockum, Erin Scofield, Derek Stewart and Lianna Stuart, to close the ceremony prior to the Recessional.

Clyde Ford, the president of the Fresno State Alumni Association, will welcome the Class of 2014 graduates as official alumni after the degree conferral.

The Commencement season concludes Saturday night with the Latino Commencement Celebration at 6 p.m. at the Save Mart Center, where Castro and his wife Mary will be among four honorees. The oldest and largest of Fresno State’s diversity celebrations, Latino Commencement began in 1976 by the Chicano Alumni chapter as a master’s thesis project by students Manuel Olgin and Tony Garduque, who went on to careers with the university and are now retired.

Also honored Saturday night will be actor Alfonso Arau and fallen California Highway Patrol officer Juan Jaime Gonzalez, a Fresno State alumnus who died in a car accident while responding to a call in February. Gonzalez participated in Latino Commencement in 2004 when he graduated.


Events are organized by the University Commencement Planning Committee, coordinated by the Division of Student Affairs under the guidance of staff in the Office of Student Activities and Leadership Development.

For more information, call 559.278.2741 or see updates online.


Parking will be free in the Save Mart Center lots for all commencement events on campus. Guests are encouraged to arrive early. For the University Commencement, students begin lining up at 8 a.m. at the loading dock on the east side of the arena. The procession starts at 9:30 a.m.

Guests with mobility concerns may be dropped off at the circle drive off Shaw Avenue adjacent to the Student Recreation Center (just west of the Save Mart Center).

Handicap parking lots: Lot 5 (directly behind Save Mart Center), and in Lots P1, P5 and P6.

Traffic: Freeway 168 westbound will be closed to vehicular traffic from Shepherd Avenue to McKinley Avenue from 7:30-9:30 a.m. Saturday, May 17 for the California Classic Century Ride. Please plan to use an alternate route and expect traffic delays. Plan to arrive early to avoid heavy traffic.

Students: NO alcohol, coats, purses, bags, backpacks or personal items will be allowed.

Heat issues: With triple-digit temperatures hitting Fresno this week, guests are reminded to take precautions against heat stroke and dehydration. All indoor venues for Commencement have air conditioning that has been checked and is properly functioning. Doors remain open at the Save Mart Center and in most other campus facilities all day on Friday, and in the Save Mart Center all day Saturday, for those seeking shelter from the heat prior to the start of a ceremony.

Water and/or Gatorade will be available for purchase inside the lobby of the Save Mart Center, as well as inside and outside the Student Recreation Center. Vending machines and/or working water fountains are available in close proximity to events taking place in other facilities on campus. For participating students, water is also available in the graduate staging area for all events taking place at the Save Mart Center on Friday and Saturday.

First responders will be on location at the Save Mart Center and the Student Recreation Center and there are designated first aid locations inside these facilities in case any students or guests require immediate medical attention.

American Red Cross has a free first aid app that includes information for a variety of first aid issues including heat stroke, heat exhaustion and heat cramps.

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