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MWSU Starts New Tradition, Holds Outdoor Graduation

Missouri Western held its first outdoor graduation for the first time since the early 1970s. The university plans to have outdoor commencements in the future.
(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) The sounds of a snare and bass drum led Missouri Western graduates to a new tradition; the university's the first outdoor graduation in more than three decades.

More than 500 undergraduate, and graduate students, received degrees.

That large number was the reason why spring graduation was moved outside.

"They're unable to be housed in the Looney Complex, except in two events. So, we decided to put, into one event, in Spratt Stadium," said Bob Willenbrink, the Founding Dean for the School of Fine Arts.

The changes to this year's graduation seemed to work in everyone's favor.

The biggest concern, however, was the weather, but mother nature cooperated.

"Beautiful day! I think the universe is with us for the weather, so we'll keep our fingers crossed. A lot of excited people are here today; families, as well, of course for these students," said Susan Carter, Professor in the Department of Music.

"We couldn't have gotten a more beautiful day," said Adrienne Collins, a Spring 2014 graduate from the College of Music.

With the sun shining and not a cloud in the sky, an airplane flew over Spratt Stadium with a special message: "Congratulations Missouri Western Graduates."

Then, graduates sang the university's Alma Mater, one the last time, before turning their tassels.

"I think it's just going to be a beautiful experience for everyone involved," said Willenbrink.

"It's just very exciting to be in the middle of this right now," said Collins.

It took a team of people to make sure this moment was memorable and exciting.

Those who helped said the new tradition started on the right foot.

"This is the first of, which we hope, is a long string of successful outdoor graduations," he said.

Outdoor ceremonies will only be held for spring graduates.

The others will still be held inside the Looney Complex.

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