Commencement: The best day ever


Administrators at UW Bothell are asking graduates to plan ahead this year, as larger graduating classes mean less space for spectators at commencement. At this time, registered graduates will receive four guest tickets. The ceremony will be live-streamed on UWTV.

The University of Washington Bothell is the fastest growing public university in the state of Washington. It's a distinction that comes with some growing pains as administrators struggle to provide ample classroom and laboratory space to its growing population. 

Space is also limited at Alaska Airlines Arena, where the university has held its commencement ceremony for the last 10 years. Planners expect nearly 75 percent of UW Bothell’s 1,800 spring grads to participate. Family members and guests will pack the arena with about 6,000 people. 

With limited space to safely accommodate graduates and their guests, the university is currently planning to distribute four tickets to each registered graduate. There will be a designated overflow space in the arena where the ceremony will be streamed live. Organizers are developing a distribution plan for those tickets as well as any extra tickets.

“Our students are at the center of everything we do and that certainly includes commencement,” says Lisa Walker, assistant director of events and marketing. "There is nothing more beautiful than seeing families and friends celebrate our graduates. We have to figure out how to best accommodate a bigger graduating class and guests within the constraints of limited space and safety regulations."

Walker says her team has been exploring other venues since last June when the arena was filled to capacity. Key Arena is already booked that day; the Xfinity Arena, formerly known as the Comcast Arena, in Everett is about the same size; and the UW Bothell commencement – big as it is – isn’t quite big enough for Husky Stadium.

Walker's team is aware of the need for some students to have additional tickets and is working to mitigate the crunch and make this the best day ever. After a meeting with student leaders, Walker says they are working together to gauge graduate interest in a few seating reconfiguration options that could help. The students will send out an online survey that will stay live until March 23. All graduating seniors are encouraged to complete the survey as quickly as possible.

Meanwhile, the best advice for students is to sign up as soon as registration opens May 2. Walker recommends that students sign up for the exact number of tickets that they plan to use. This will allow her team to understand just how big the crunch will be.

Deadlines and details are posted on the commencement website. Students also may contact the commencement office at or by calling 425-352-5166. 

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19128 112th Ave NE, Suite 102
Bothell, WA 98011

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Maria Lamarca Anderson
Director of Communications
206-960-3851 (mobile)
425-352-5461 (desk)

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