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Week of April 26, 2010

U-M outlines details for May 1 commencement

The university has several important messages for students, parents and other guests attending the May 1 commencement featuring President Barack Obama: Arrive early, allow plenty of time for parking, and don’t bring purses, bags or other personal items to Michigan Stadium.

Due to additional security at the event all graduates and guests need to be at the stadium gates no later than 9 a.m. to ensure that they clear security before the event begins. Gates open at 6:30 a.m. Security will involve equipment similar to that found at airports, so lines may be long at times.

“It is very important that we have everyone’s cooperation with this early call,” says Michelle Pate, director of University and Development Events. “We want this historic event to be an enjoyable experience by all, so we are asking everyone for their patience and assistance to make the security process as seamless as possible. That can only happen if people plan ahead and arrive early.”

The university has planned a morning of entertainment to help pass the time until the ceremony begins at 11 a.m. Concessions stands also will be open for those who wish to purchase breakfast foods and drink.

Graduates must go to Elbel Field, beginning at 6:30 a.m. and no later than 9 a.m., to receive security instructions for entering the stadium. At the field they will find a free continental breakfast, a photo station and the opportunity to send a video or Twitter message to family and friends that will be displayed inside the stadium. From Elbel Field graduates will be directed to the stadium. All graduates must have a Graduate Ticket and M-Card.

The stadium no-bag policy is being enforced at this event, with some added restrictions.

Cell phones and cameras in powered-up mode are allowed, but camera bags are not. Among the additional items that are not permitted are water bottles, matches and lighters.

Although smoking has been allowed on the concourse at football games, no one will be able to bring in items required to light up. Smokers also will not be allowed to leave through the gates and gain re-entry, so guests should plan for a smoke-free morning, university officials say.

Those with necessities, such as prescription medications and contents normally found in a diaper bag, should place such items in clear plastic bags.

Guests should review the full list of prohibited and permitted items:

Permitted Items

• Binoculars, no cases

• Pagers and cell phones

• Small cameras and hand-held video camera, no cases

• Blankets and rain apparel

Prohibited Items       

• All bags, including purses, fanny packs, etc.

• Aerosol and spray cans

• Matches and lighters

• Umbrellas

• Food

• Leatherman-type tools

• Air horns

• Flags and flag poles

• Signs, banners, balloons, balls and inflatable items

• Alcoholic beverages

• Coolers, thermoses, cups, bottles, cans, flasks

• Camera tripods

• Strollers

• Pets or animals (assistance animals are permitted)

• Weapons: firearms, knives, pepper spray

• Hazardous materials

• Fireworks

University leaders warn that parking will be challenging. Guests should expect to park a distance away from the stadium and either be prepared to walk or take advantage of the many shuttle buses that will be available. Buses will run from several university lots and select hotel locations. Shuttle service begins at 5:30 a.m. and buses run approximately every 20 minutes, subject to traffic conditions. Shuttles depart Michigan Stadium regularly for 60 minutes after the end of the ceremony. Lines likely will be long at times but the buses will move people as quickly as traffic allows.

Those with limited mobility are encouraged to park at one of the shuttle lots because even the closest lots are a bit of a walk.

Accessible parking and seating will be available for those who requested it by an April 16 deadline. Separate communication with parking information is being sent to those individuals.

Pioneer High School will be available for parking at a fee assessed by the public school system. Unlike on football game days, the U-M Golf Course will be not available for parking, as the ground is too wet to accommodate vehicles. The lot near Crisler Arena will not be open.

Guests should expect traffic congestion on all routes into Ann Arbor and to the stadium. Some streets also may be blocked entirely that morning, including a section of Main Street between Pauline and Stadium Boulevard, so drivers are urged to plan routes with alternatives in mind. 

All who attend commencement must have a ticket. Distribution of tickets takes place the week before the event, as follows:

Graduate ticket distribution will take place at the Alumni Center, Founders Room (Alumni Association, 200 Fletcher St., corner of Fletcher and Washington streets). Times are:

• 10 a.m.-7 p.m. today (April 26)

• 8 a.m.-7 p.m. Tuesday

• 8 a.m.-7 p.m. Wednesday

All graduating students participating in commencement must attend ticket distribution to pick up tickets. Graduates must present their student identification (MCard).

Members of the U-M community may receive up to two tickets each. The must bring their MCards to receive tickets. Tickets may be picked up at the Michigan Union Ticket Office, Michigan Union, ground floor, 530 S. State St., as follows:

• University community: 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Thursday

• General public and university community: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Friday

The commencement ceremony will take place rain or shine. In the event of inclement weather, it may be shortened, suspended or concluded. If so, participants will receive instructions over the public address system. For the safety of all, everyone should remain seated until those instructions are given. Umbrellas are not permitted in the stadium but rain ponchos are, and they also will be available for sale.

Spring Commencement will be broadcast nationally on the Big Ten Network, locally on the Michigan Channel (Comcast Channel 22), and live streaming video will be available at and



Bonnie Miljour, senior scientific illustrator, Museum of Paleontology, on her love of watercolors: “The very first time that I handled the medium I knew I loved it.”


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