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VCU changes its Ram mind about commencement

RICHMOND, Va. -- Some graduating VCU students were not happy last week when university president Michael Rao announced the cancellation of the annual university-wide commencement held each May at the Richmond Coliseum. The reason he gave was that the university was unable to secure a venue for the event.

Later that week, with Dr. Rao in attendance, Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney announced his support for a plan to tear down the Richmond Coliseum and replace it with the largest arena in Virginia.

Students were vocal in their displeasure with the decision to cancel the university-wide commencement.

One week later, and VCU pulls an about face.

"Following last week’s announcement that VCU would not hold a university-wide commencement ceremony in May 2019, many of you expressed your desires to proceed with a ceremony while the city re-develops the area that includes The Richmond Coliseum, a project that represents tremendous long-term opportunity for our region," Dr. Rao wrote in a Facebook post. "Fortunately, some venues across the region that were previously unavailable may now be options for us. Because of your desire, combined with new venue availability, I am pleased to announce that VCU will proceed with a spring university-wide commencement ceremony on May 11, 2019."

Details, he cautioned, were still being finalized.

"Including the location, logistics, and how your commencement experience may look and feel in each space," he wrote. "We will communicate those details as soon as they can be confirmed. What I can confirm now is that there will be a spring ceremony in which all members of our community may come together to celebrate VCU’s Class of 2019."