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Bemidji State University's 97th Commencement set for May 6


More than 1,000 college graduates have been invited to celebrate the beginning of the rest of their lives at Bemidji State University’s 97th Commencement.

Commencement is Friday, May 6, at Sanford Center, located on First Avenue in Bemidji. The ceremony begins at 2 p.m. Central time and is expected to last approximately two hours.

Bemidji State’s commencement is free and open to the public; no tickets are required. Sanford Center seating is general admission, and there is no charge to park. While there are approximately 1,000 parking spots at the Sanford Center, based on previous attendance carpooling is encouraged to minimize overflow parking on the streets. Students and guests may park on campus in the Bangsberg Hall parking lot and carpool from there; no permits are required in university parking lots on Commencement day.

**Guest seating**

Commencement guests should enter the Sanford Center through Gate 2, through the main concourse. Only the lower bowl of the Sanford Center will be open for seating. Seating in Sections U, V and W are reserved for handicapped and hearing-impaired visitors and their families. Concessions will be available in the concession stand behind Section U.

Parking and assembly information is available online:

**Commencement Walk**

Commencement will begin shortly before 2 p.m. when Bemidji State faculty and staff will partake in a traditional commencement march. Students will exit the Sanford Center through Gate 5 and walk between the center and Lake Bemidji before re-entering through Gate 2 and moving into the arena for commencement. In the event of inclement weather, the walk will take place through the Sanford Center concourse.

**Live Online Video**

Commencement will again be available through a live online video stream. The stream will be available beginning at 2 p.m. Central time; viewers are encouraged to visit the stream in advance to ensure that necessary plug-ins are present and properly functioning. More information on the web stream is available online:

**Distinguished Minnesotans**

This year’s commencement address will be delivered by recipients of BSU’s 2016 Distinguished Minnesotans award, Dr. Darby and Geri Nelson. In March 2015, the Nelsons created Bemidji State University’s Helping Hands (Naadamaageng) Student Assistance Fund for American Indian students. The fund provides cash awards, which can range from $100-750, intended to help native students overcome an immediate financial obstacle that might otherwise thwart their academic progress.

For more on the Nelsons, visit


Jay Cowles, a member of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Board of Trustees, will also provide remarks at commencement. He is president of Unity Avenue Associates, LLC, a family investment company in Minneapolis. Cowles was appointed by Gov. Mark Dayton in 2014 for a six-year term ending June 30, 2020.

For more on Cowles, visit []

**Commencement Brunch**

Each college and department on campus will kick off commencement day with a traditional pre-commencement brunch for graduates and their families. The brunch will be held in both the upper and lower Hobson Memorial Union from 9:30-11:30 a.m.

The upper union’s Beaux Arts Ballroom will host accounting; business; human performance, sport and health; and professional education graduates.

College of Arts and Sciences graduates gather in the lower Lakeside area, with mass communication grads meeting in Lower Lakeside-North. The lower union’s Scandanavian Room will host psychology grads, and criminal justice majors will meet in the Viking Room. Social work grads will gather in Lower Lakeside-South. Technology, art and design graduates will gather in the Crying Wolf Room, while the Bemidji School of Nursing graduates will gather outside the Crying Wolf Room overlooking the lower Lakeside area.

Guest drop-off will be available along Birchmont Drive and accessible parking will be open behind the lower union. Wheelchair access will be provide through both the upper and lower unions. Guides will be available to provide assistance. No tickets are required for the brunch.

**Tobacco-Free Campus**

BSU’s visitors are reminded that our campus is tobacco-free. For more information on Bemidji State’s tobacco-free policy, visit


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