Fresno State will graduate its largest class in history with more than 6,200 students meeting requirements. University officials say about 62% of the graduating students in the class of 2019 are first-generation students whose parents didn’t receive bachelor’s degrees. Among them, almost 49% are underrepresented minority students.

Fresno State’s 108th Commencement season is highlighted by the main University Commencement ceremony at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, May 18, at the Save Mart Center. The University Commencement procession begins at 1 p.m. All graduates and their guests are encouraged to attend the University Commencement ceremony that celebrates all graduates’ achievements.

Fresno State will host a reception for all Fresno State graduates, their friends and families from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, May 18, on the south lawn of the Save Mart Center.

This marks the first time the ceremony will take place in the afternoon — historically it has been held in the morning. Although each college and other affinity groups hold separate celebrations, the University-wide ceremony is Fresno State’s only commencement event where degrees are officially conferred to graduates.

“We are so proud of all of the accomplishments of all of our graduates,” said Dr. Frank R. Lamas, vice president for the Division of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management at Fresno State. “We can’t wait to see what their futures hold. This weekend is a time for celebrating with family and friends all of your hard work and achievements.”

About 6,229 Fresno State students are eligible for degree conferral by University President Joseph I. Castro. Pending final certification of spring 2019 degrees, it would be the highest number of degrees ever awarded at Fresno State in an academic year. Castro will be joined by Hugo Morales of the California State University Board of Trustees.

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

Fresno State’s 6,229-student class of 2019 consists of:

  • 5,065 students who received a degree in summer or fall 2018 or are pending final review in spring 2019 for their baccalaureate degrees.
  • 1,061 who received a degree in summer or fall 2018 or are pending final review in spring 2019 for their post-baccalaureate degrees.

The doctoral cohorts and candidate breakdowns are:

Summa cum laude (with highest praise) distinction for a GPA of 3.9 to 4.0 was earned by 260 students, with 47 of those earning straight A’s.

The students selected for the University’s top academic honors, the President’s Medalist and the University Graduate Medalist, will be announced. The students were selected from the nine Deans’ Undergraduate Medalists and nine Deans’ 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 along with a photo gallery of the weekend’s activities.

Also, Morales will confer honorary doctorate degrees by authority of the CSU Board of Trustees to John C. Harris and Janis Yanehiro.

Security measures

In order to provide a safe and secure environment for all, the following items are not permitted at Fresno State graduation ceremony venues:

  • Hoverboards
  • Bottles, cans, coolers or similar containers
  • Food, drinks or illegal substances
  • Any weapon, including guns, stun guns, chains, studded bracelets
  • Video equipment, professional camera, tripods or recording devices
  • Laser pointers, aerosol cans, noise-makers, fireworks
  • Helium balloons
  • Tobacco and smoking, including e-cigarettes or vapors
  • Lighters of any kind
  • Selfie sticks
  • Pets or non-service animals
  • Explosives
  • Handcuffs, brass knuckles, sticks, clubs, batons, martial arts instruments
  • Pepper spray, tear gas
  • Knives of any kind
  • Any other items determined to be unacceptable or dangerous by venue management
  • Any signage that will obstruct the view of other ceremony guests for an extended period of time may be subject to removal by venue management.

Save Mart Center

All guests entering the Save Mart Center are subject to a search of their person and their property. This includes a visual inspection and a bag inspection conducted by Save Mart Center security personnel. Persons entering the facility, as a condition of the license to enter, may be subject to search by electronic wand regardless of whether they are carrying any of the above-mentioned items. The purpose of the inspection is to detect prohibited items. It is recommended that guests arrive early to avoid long lines.

The Save Mart Center prohibits backpacks and any bags larger than 12 inches by 6 inches by 12 inches. The only approved bags are diaper bags, bags smaller than 12 inches by 6 inches by 12 inches and medically necessary items (after proper inspection). All bags are subject to search.

Academic regalia security screening at Save Mart Center

To ensure a smooth and efficient security process when entering the Save Mart Center, graduates and faculty wearing academic regalia are advised to carry their robes into event venues and then dress in designated lineup areas.

Safe celebrating

  • Fresno State commencement and graduation ceremonies are alcohol-, drug-, smoke-, vapor- and tobacco-free events, and a zero-tolerance for disorderly behavior will be strictly enforced. Graduating students are invited to Grad Night from 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday, May 16, at the Bulldog Zone and Bulldog Bowl (lower level of the University Student Union). Graduates can enjoy free bowling, billiards, live music entertainment and graduate cap decorating. There will be free food, while supplies last, and giveaways throughout the evening.
  • 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.
  • Students who are intoxicated or disruptive will not be allowed in the ceremony venue or will be escorted from the ceremonies. See Commencement Expectations information provided to students.
  • Fresno State’s newest graduates are invited to attend a Graduation Celebration, hosted by the Fresno State Alumni Association. Graduates, families and friends are invited to gather on the south lawn of the Save Mart Center to kick off the 108th University Commencement on Saturday, May 18. Guests can enjoy appetizers, refreshments and exciting photo opportunities. INFO: Amanda Hall, program coordinator for student and young alumni engagement, at 559.278.0400 or

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 University Commencement and the American Indian Graduation Honoring Dinner.

Commencement news and notes

This week, events resume Friday, May 17, with college and school convocations in addition to program celebrations throughout the day at multiple locations.

Video of the main University Commencement will be posted to the Fresno State YouTube page the week after commencement.

At the University Commencement Saturday morning, Dr. Gregory Kriehn, professor of electrical and computer engineering in the Lyles College of Engineering, will receive the Provost’s Award for Excellence in Teaching from Dr. Robert Harper, Fresno State interim provost and vice president for Academic Affairs.

Graduate Yuxi Liu will sing the National Anthem to open the ceremony and graduates Theresa Lopes-Medina, Oscar Luna, Kenneshae Murray, Christopher Rodriguez and Amber Gash will sing the alma mater to close it.

Chris Henson will lead the procession as grand marshal as one of the University’s longest-tenured faculty members. As a professor of English, Henson has taught for 45 years, 35 of them in the Department of English.

Kurt Madden, the president of the Fresno State Alumni Association board, will welcome the class of 2019 graduates as official alumni after the degree conferral.

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

General Info

Parking will be free in Save Mart Center lots for all commencement events May 17 and 18 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.

The GPS address for the Save Mart Center is 2650 E. Shaw Ave.

Guests are reminded that the Campus Pointe parking lot is for customers and tenants/employees only, not for 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.

Main University Commencement information

Guests may sit anywhere in the arena except on the floor and in lower section 103 (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 (toward the bottom of this web page).

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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