(UPDATE May 20, 2017): Touyee Thao of Fresno and Alexandra Gallo of Hollister were awarded the top University honors at Fresno State’s 106th Commencement today at the Save Mart Center: bit.ly/Class17TopStudents.  See Commencement candidsbit.ly/FS-Commt17FBpix


Fresno State’s 106th Commencement season features 33 events this week and several new, historic components highlighted by the main ceremony at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 20, at the Save Mart Center. Doors open at 8 a.m. and procession begins at 9:30 a.m.

About 5,648 Fresno State students are eligible for degree conferral by University President Joseph I. Castro, who will be joined by former Fresno State professor Hugo Morales of the California State University Board of Trustees.

Timothy Ryan, president of Associated Students, Inc., will open the free, public ceremony with the traditional student welcome.

At the main University ceremony Saturday, the President’s Medalist and the University Graduate Medalist will be announced. The students were selected from the nine Deans’ Undergraduate Medalists and nine Dean’s Graduate Medalists representing the University’s eight colleges and schools and the Division of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management.

The announcement will be posted on the University Commencement website and at FresnoStateNews.com along with a photo gallery of the weekend’s activities. The two top medalists will also be featured on the marquee boards outside the Save Mart Center and Bulldog Stadium.

Also Saturday morning, Morales will confer two honorary degrees by authority of the CSU Board of Trustees: the Doctor of Humane Letters for Mike McGarvin and an Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree for former faculty member Ernesto Palomino.

Palomino will later deliver remarks at the 40th Chicano/Latino Commencement Celebration at 6 p.m. Saturday where two alumni will be presented the new Fresno State Chicano Commencement Bold Visionary Award: Manuel Pérez, former associate dean of student affairs, and Diana Gomez, Central Valley regional director for the California High Speed Rail Authority.

A record 1,000-plus graduates have signed up to participate in the Saturday night event that last year drew more than 13,000 guests.

Gomez will also deliver the keynote for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered, Queer/Questioning (LGBTQ+) Commencement Celebration at 3:30 p.m. Saturday in the Peters Educational Center (Student Recreation Center Shaw and Woodrow Avenue).

Other keynote speakers include Dr. Karen Crozier of Fresno Pacific University for the African-American Recognition Program at 2 p.m. Saturday in the Save Mart Center and Dr. Malisa Lee of student affairs for the Asian American and Pacific Islander Graduation Ceremony at 12:30 p.m. Saturday in the Student Recreation Center.

Safe Celebrating campaign: Several events will help promote that Fresno State commencement ceremonies are alcohol- and drug-free events, and that a zero-tolerance expectation will be enforced. Safe Celebration events begin with a cap decorating party from 1 to 3 p.m. Wednesday, May 17, and from 10-11 a.m. Thursday, May 18, on the lower level of the University Student Union. Bowling and billiards will be available from 10 a.m. to noon Thursday, May 18, in the USU with a DJ performance from 9 to 11 p.m. when food will also be available.

Graduates and guests will not be permitted to carry in or consume alcoholic beverages at ceremony sites and students are asked to support the spirit of dignified celebration with the Safe Celebrating Pledge.

Dr. Frank Lamas, vice president of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management whose division coordinates the main Commencement, said students who are visibly intoxicated or disruptive will not be allowed in the venues or will be escorted from the ceremonies. See bit.ly/FSSafeCelebrating and Commencement Expectations information provided to students.

Bulldog for Life Graduation Celebration: On Friday, May 19, and Saturday, May 20, graduates and their families and friends will gather on the south lawn of the Save Mart Center for a celebration presented by the Fresno State Alumni Association. Four 8-foot by 12-foot photo walls will be available. The Kennel Bookstore will be selling Fresno State and alumni gear at its booth. Victor E. Bulldog III will be on site to pose with the new Fresno State alumni.

Eagle’s Feather: The use of ceremonial feathers from birds of prey will again be permitted for use by American Indian students at University graduation ceremonies, including the main commencement and the American Indian graduation ceremony. The American Indian Graduation Celebration will be at 3 p.m. Saturday at O’ Neill Park.

The Class of 2017 commencement season kicked off May 12 with the Educational Opportunity Program Graduation Recognition Program and the Criminology 108 graduation on campus.

This week, events resume Friday, May 19, with 20 college and school convocations in addition to department and program celebrations throughout the day at multiple locations. On Saturday, after the main University Commencement, another ten events will be held before concluding Sunday with the Nursing Undergraduate Pinning Ceremony at 2 p.m. at the Satellite Student Union and the Air Force ROTC Pinning Ceremony June 7.

See the full schedule of events at bit.ly/FScommtSCHED.

Some of the celebrations require tickets based on the size of the graduating class and anticipated audience. Those events are noted on the schedule. Live streaming will not be available but video of the main University Commencement will be posted to the Fresno State YouTube page the week after commencement.

About 1,300 students walk in the main ceremony Saturday with others opting to participate only in their respective college convocations or department/program celebrations.

At the University Commencement Saturday morning, Benjamin Boone, professor of music in the College of Arts and Humanities, will receive the Provost’s Award for Excellence in Teaching from Dr. Lynnette Zelezny, Fresno State provost and vice president for Academic Affairs.

Graduate Ashley Trembley will sing the National Anthem to open the ceremony and Emiliano Zapata, Katie La Blue, Alyssa Almaguer and Ed Olivarez will sing the Alma Mater to close it.

  1. Dan Smith will lead the procession as grand marshal as 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.

Brian Domingos Jr., the president of the Fresno State Alumni Association board, will welcome the class of 2017 graduates as official alumni after the degree conferral.

The commencement ceremony is organized by the University Commencement Planning Committee, coordinated by the Division of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management under the guidance of staff in the Student Involvement Center.

Fresno State’s 5,648-student class of 2017 consists of (includes summer and fall 2016 graduates and spring 2017 applicants):  

  • 4,635 students who completed requirements for their baccalaureate degree
  • 1,113 who earned post-baccalaureate degrees (931 students earned master’s and education specialist degrees and 82 students earned doctorate degrees)

The doctoral cohorts and candidate breakdowns are:

  • Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) with 23.
  • Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) with 34.
  • Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) with 25.

Summa Cum Laude (with highest praise) distinction for a GPA of 3.9 to 4.0 was earned by 179 students with 51 of those earning straight A’s.

The University’s official spring enrollment was 22,971 and fall was 24,403.


Parking will be free in Save Mart Center lots for all commencement events May 19 and 20 on campus. Guests are encouraged to arrive early.

Guests with mobility concerns can 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 lots P1, P3, P5 and P8.

See maps, parking and GPS addresses for each of the six commencement venues on campus: bit.ly/FScommtparkingmaps.

Guests are reminded that the Campus Pointe parking lot is for customers and tenant/employees only, not event parking for the Save Mart Center. Vehicles are subject to being towed if parking regulations are not followed.

Traffic: Please follow directions of traffic personnel stationed at various lots throughout campus.

Off-campus events parking

Woodwork Park: Daily park entry fees are $5 per vehicle or $3 per vehicle in which a senior citizen (age 65 or older) is a passenger or driver. Directions: bit.ly/WoodwarkParkDir .


Guests may sit anywhere in the arena except on the floor and in lower sections 102, 103, 104 (reserved for graduates). Guests will want to sit on the side of the arena where their graduates will be seated. Graduates are seated by specific college/school. See chart: bit.ly/FScommtinfo.

The concession stands in the arena will be open for water and soft drink purchases only.

Flower bouquets and fresh leis will be for sale at merchandise sites throughout the arena.

Alumni gear will also be available for sale in the atrium on commencement day or at the Kennel Bookstore.

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