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Meredith eliminates December graduation, cites cost

The move is one of many to cut costs by $2 million next year, while setting aside $1.4 million more for financial aid for students, representatives of the women's college said.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Meredith College plans to eliminate commencement ceremonies for December graduates beginning next year as a cost-cutting measure.

The decision was shared with students on April 17 after a meeting of the college budget committee. A college spokeswoman said students who complete their degrees in December can march in the larger spring commencement.

"If there was any way possible for them to keep it, I think that they should try to keep it and cut other places," student Allie Hargrove said.

Sophomore Katherine Thomas said that graduation is one of the traditions that binds students together at the 118-year-old women's college, which is the largest in the southeast.

"I feel like it makes a lot closer, because you get to experience a lot of things together," Thomas said.

Students who complete the requirements for graduation in August 2009, December 2009 and May 2010 will be eligible to participate in the May 2010 commencement exercises.

"We certainly understand their disappointment, but we did try and let students know as soon as the decision was made so they can make plans," said Kristi Eaves-McLennan, executive director of marketing at Meredith.

Melyssa Allen, news director for the college, estimated that 100 students typically participate in the winter commencement exercises. Discontinuing the event will save about $15,000 a year.

Eaves-McLennan described the decision as one of many "difficult decisions" that have to be made to cut costs by $2 million next year.

Four percent of the college's work force will likely be cut, while tuition and fees will go up 4 percent to $24,440, she said. Major construction projects, such as a new student apartment building, that are already under way and have been budgeted for will continue.

"I think it is definitely going to be harder for some people to continue going here, and I think it is going to affect how many people decide to start coming here," Thomas said.

Enrollment, though, looks strong for next year, Eaves-McLennan said. The college has received more deposits from incoming freshman than at this point last year, she said.

Since the economy is likely pinching students' and their families' budgets as much as the college's, Meredith has increased financial aid by $1.4 million for next year, Eaves-McLennan said.


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