Stephanie Logue missed her high school graduation ceremony in Corpus Christi because of basic training for the U.S. Army. Her decade in the military, where she rose to the rank of staff sergeant and served tours in Iraq and Kosovo, caused her to miss many family milestones back home.
Over the past two years, Logue completed an MBA degree at the University of Houston Downtown. This summer, she got her dream job at an airline in Dallas, and commuted to Houston to finish the final few months of coursework. Now she is excited to share her accomplishment with her family, whom she has spent so many years away from. But since discovering UHD switched the date of her graduation ceremony, Logue is unsure she'll even attend.
“I'm the first person in my generation of my family to have a master's degree, and I planned it and it was going to be a big thing, and now it looks like it's not going to happen,” Logue said.
Logue said UHD originally told MBA students their commencement would take place on Saturday, December 17. Logue learned from classmates this week that the school moved the ceremony to the afternoon of December 18, a Sunday.
She said no one from the university has informed her of the change. UHD spokesman Mike Emery sent the Houston Press a statement from the university on Tuesday afternoon, which says the school will inform students this week of the ceremony details.
UHD said officials decided to give MBA students their own commencement after the main Saturday ceremony ballooned to more than 1,000 students. The statement adds:
"With approximately 200 students expected to earn MBAs this fall, the decision to split graduation ceremonies was based on providing an event that is meaningful to graduates and their families and that can be conducted in a comfortable time frame."
UHD has also held Sunday ceremonies in 2011, 2012, 2013 and this spring, the statement said.
Logue said traveling back to Dallas in time for work the Monday morning after graduation will be difficult. She added she feels bad forcing family members to take that Monday off, since they may be taking other days off that week as Christmas approaches.
Logue said she raised her concerns with Kevin Barksdale, the associate dean for the MBA program, who offered Logue the opportunity to walk with other students in the Saturday ceremony. But Logue said she wants to celebrate with her classmates she has gotten to know well in the small, 220-member MBA program.
In an online forum for the 2016 UHD MBA class, several students expressed dismay at the graduation ceremony change.
This isn't the first time UHD has pulled a switcheroo with graduation. Last spring, the university drew the ire of many students after changing a graduation ceremony, inexplicably, from a Saturday to a Friday afternoon.