Commencement Venue Selection Process

2017 Commencement Venue Selection Process

After Commencement 2016, it was apparent that UW Bothell would need a larger venue for future ceremonies. Site visits of viable locations throughout the Puget Sound region were conducted over the summer. In September a committee of students and staff convened to consider the options and solicit student feedback. This is the complete process that was followed.


Concerns about fit at the previous venue encouraged exploration of future UW Bothell graduating class sizes, desire for more guest tickets, and local venues that could meet these needs.


June 2016: Data was collected from available venues that could hold the UW Bothell graduating class and their families; site visits were held. Visits to UW Seattle athletics were held to discuss future use of Hec Edmundson Pavilion and Husky Stadium. Due to fire code changes, Hec Edmundson Pavilion was not available. Due to scheduling and costs, Husky Stadium was not available.

Additional area venues and key factors for consideration:

Hec Edmundson Pavilion –Sunday, June 11, 2017

  • Would require two ceremonies (check-in and line up, processional, end, break for clean up; repeat)
  • 812 seats on floor for each ceremony
  • Eight guest tickets per student
  • Weekend availability

Key Arena – Monday, June 12, 2017

  • 10 guest tickets per student
  • Floor capacity is 1,400 (Will not sustain UW Bothell for the next 2-5 years)
  • Guest and student seats are red (Seattle U and WSU colors)
  • Parking is limited to garage south of Key Arena, street and lot parking, and garages on Mercer – possibly long walking distances
  • Weekday availability
  • Seattle University colors and signage would need to be covered

Safeco Field – Tuesday, June 13, 2017

  • Guests would park at Safeco Field Garage and/or CenturyLink Garage
  • Students would check in and congregate in right field seats by school, then process onto field via a series of ramps and underground tunnels to the field (a long walk)
  • Guests would sit in the lower sections behind home plate
  • Weekday
  • 10 guest tickets per student
  • ADA accessible and plenty of restrooms

September 2016:A committee of students and staff was assembled to find the venue that fit student desires and the growing graduating class for future years.

Choosing the most important factors

October 11 and 12, 2016: Four focus groups were held to discuss factors most important to students when thinking about their commencement ceremony. Students were recruited by a campus-wide email, flyers, web and social media posts. To participate, students completed a demographic questionnaire to ensure each focus group was heterogeneous. During the focus groups, students were asked to rank factors most important to their commencement ceremony to least important. Then students discussed the results and the available venue options. The options available for ranking were:

  • More than 6 guest tickets
  • Sitting together as a class
  • Weekend ceremony
  • No graduation fee (A graduation fee will NOT be implemented in 2017)
  • Ceremony at a UW venue
  • Indoor ceremony
  • Sitting with your school/major
  • Ceremony at a non-UW venue
  • Outdoor ceremony
  • Weekday ceremony

The most popular factors that students identified as most valued in their commencement ceremony were:

  1. More than six guest tickets. (53% of students listed this as their #1 most highly valued factor.)
  2. Sitting together as a class. (25% of students listed this as their #1 most highly valued factor.)
  3. Weekend ceremony. (16% of students listed this as their #1 most highly valued factor.)

October 2016: ASUWB discussed Commencement at their weekly meetings. ASUWB felt more student input was needed to tease out preferences between a segmented, weekend ceremony at a UW venue and a single, weekday ceremony at a non-UW venue.

October 15, 2016: ASUWB distributed an online survey to ask students to choose the ceremony option they preferred most. The options were:

Option 1: Alaska Airlines Arena at Hec Edmundson Pavilion

Location: University of Washington Seattle


  • 6 or more guest tickets per participating graduate
  • Weekend day ceremony
  • UW venue
  • No graduation fee


  • 2 Ceremonies – To accommodate the pros listed above, the traditional single ceremony would be split into two back-to-back ceremonies on the same day.
  • Entire class cannot sit together.

Option 2: Key Arena OR Safeco Field

Location: Downtown Seattle


  • 6 or more guest tickets per participating graduate
  • Class sits together as a whole in one single ceremony


  • Weekday ceremony (Monday or Tuesday)
  • Possibility of graduation fee up to $50 per participating graduate in addition to regalia and parking purchases. * (see note)
  • Non-UW venue

The results were:

  • 191 students participated: 46% were seniors, 21% were juniors, 18% were sophomores, 14% were first years
  • 54% prefer Alaska Airlines at Hec Edmundson Pavilion * (see note)
  • 46% prefer Key Arena OR Safeco Field * (see note)
  • * note: ASUWB feels that the results would have trended toward Key Arena/Safeco Field if at the time of the survey students would have known that a graduation fee would NOT be charged at Key Arena/Safeco Field.

November 2016: Site visits were made to Key Arena and Safeco Field to evaluate logistics of a ceremony at each venue.

November 2016: ASUWB, the student and staff committee, and the Commencement officers jointly recommended Safeco Field. Analysis of the decision process was drafted and submitted to Chancellor Yeigh. Chancellor Yeigh approved the recommendation and forwarded the analysis to President Cauce and the Board of Regents.

December 2016: The Board of Regents approved the recommendation to hold the 26th annual UW Bothell Commencement Ceremony on Tuesday, June 13, 2017 at Safeco Field at 4:00 p.m.