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UC Davis moves commencement to Golden 1 Center after extreme heat cut short 2022 graduation

The June commencement ceremony left hundreds of students without a chance to walk across the stage due to extreme heat.

DAVIS, Calif. — Big changes are coming to UC Davis's graduation ceremony next year. It's moving to downtown Sacramento and the Golden 1 Center.

College graduation day is a major milestone marked by celebration and gathering. For businesses in Davis, every visitor, every hotel stay, every dinner on graduation weekend is money they don't want to miss out on.

"Our downtown businesses and our members definitely look forward to this weekend," said Brett Maresca, executive director for Downtown Davis. "It's one of the biggest weekend's of the year for sure."

UC Davis said it recently signed a contract with Golden 1 Center, officially moving its 2023 undergraduate commencement ceremony to downtown Sacramento, roughly 15 miles from campus.

The decision has left some Davis business owners scratching their heads, and Maresca said it came as a shock.

However, the university has its reasons. 

One of them was because UC Davis' first in-person graduation ceremony since the coronavirus pandemic was cut short for the class of 2022. There were 35 medical calls and six people were taken to the hospital due the extreme heat in June. It left hundreds of students without a chance to walk across the stage.

In response, the university put together an advisory committee to find a new way to safely do graduation. 

Also, the university asked the students what they wanted, and a survey found that most students - about 53% - wanted graduation to happen at the Golden 1 Center.

However, Maresca said this comes at a cost to businesses in the college town. 

"Transient Occupancy Tax collected for the city alone, and that weekend alone - that week was $200,000. And so if we lose that along with sales tax as generated, of course it's gonna be a major impact as we head into the slower summer months," said Maresca.

A big benefit the university says in moving the ceremony to the Golden 1 Center is it would allow each student to bring more guests, six tickets each. It was something not doable on campus.

"To increase the number of tickets allotted per student in the same venue would mean some commencement ceremonies would stretch into Monday or Tuesday, which is not ideal. Graduating from UC Davis is a major milestone and we want to ensure our ceremonies are enjoyable and memorable occasions for all who attend," Chancellor Gary May said in a news release.

Maresca is hoping they can work with the university to provide incentives and some attractions in Davis as well.

The university says it doesn't expect any changes to commencements for graduate and professional schools. Those are held at the University Credit Union Center or the Mondavi Center for Performing Arts on the Davis Campus.


UC Davis cancels commencement mid-ceremony as six hospitalized for extreme heat

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