Lakeland students petition for local graduation

After USFs Polytechnic campus split from the university last year, resulting in the creation of Floridas 12th public university, Florida Polytechnic University (FPU), students at the Lakeland branch campus want their own graduation ceremony.

To change the location of the commencement ceremonies, students in the teach-out program, which allows students who were at the institution before the legislative changes to finish their degree programs at the Lakeland campus, have created a petition.

Lakeland student Sarah Choate, a senior majoring in elementary education, created the petition and will meet with campus advisers on Wednesday. Choate said the petition had 369 signatures from various students and community members as of Monday evening. According to USF Infomart, the Lakeland campus currently has 772 students, of which 447 are fourth-year or higher undergraduates.

Having a Lakeland graduation is very important, Choate said. I enjoy the close-knit atmosphere from the small campus at Lakeland. Its not just students supporting the cause, but also the community.

Choate said she wants to graduate in the environment where she has been with the friends who she has been learning with over the past four years.

Kathleen Moore, Associate VP for Academic Affairs and Education Outreach who has supervised the teach-out, said Lakeland has considered the idea of the moving commencement for those students to Lakeland. Moore, who will also meet with Choate and other students Wednesday, said she is supportive of the idea of the petition.

In previous years, the Lakeland campus had its own ceremony just as all branch campuses currently have, but this winter students from the Lakeland campus graduated with students from the Tampa campus.

When the final class of remaining Lakeland students graduate in 2015, the Lakeland campus will close.

Moore said USF is offering more courses at the Lakeland campus and offering resources to students such as an increase in advisers, so that students in the teach-out program may finish their education in a timely manner.