Eight thousand empty chairs are waiting to be filled in the quad at the University of Nevada, Reno for graduation ceremonies on Saturday.
Families and friends of more than 1,000 bachelor's degree candidates will watch their graduates walk the walk beginning at 9:20 a.m. Saturday, and then keep walking -- exiting stage right into the real world.
According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, job prospects for the country's 1.2 million new graduates will be no worse than they were last year, so UNR grads' chances at successfuly entering the job market aren't so bleak.
The class of 2003 is still contending with a market that's weaker than when they were enrolling at school. The association says there was a 36 percent drop in corporate hiring from 2001 to 2002.
Employers expect to hire about the same number of new college graduates for 2002-03 as they hired in 2001-02, according to a new report published by the National Association of Colleges and Employers.
In addition, nearly 90 percent of employers said the war in Iraq would have no effect on their plans for 2002-03 college hires.
Just more than 42 percent of respondents said they expect to cut college hiring; at the same time, more than one-third (36.3 percent) said they plan to hire more new grads in 2002-03 than they hired in 2001-02. The remaining 21.2 percent said they will hire the same number of new graduates.
UNR President John Lilley will confer 1,053 bachelor's degrees on Saturday, officially sending the class of 2003 off with something that will help improve their odds against such statistics -- an education.
"Commencement is always the best time of the year in our university community, " Lilley said. "It's heartwarming to see the pride of parents and friends as they share the excitement of graduation day, and to know that these talented young people are ready to begin their careers as college-educated young men and women in our society."
Advanced degree ceremonies for masters degrees, doctoral degrees and education specialists will be held today, with the processional to begin at 4:30 p.m., while the undergraduate commencement will be held on Saturday, the processional to begin at 9:20 a.m.
Lilley will confer 387 master's degrees and 93 doctor of philosophy degrees. Six students from the College of Education will receive the education specialist certificate and four students will earn the doctor of education degree.
Forty-six students slated to earn the doctor of medicine degree will be recognized this afternoon at Lawlor Events Center during a separate ceremony.
This spring commencement marks the 113th such ceremony at UNR.
Among the graduates from the Reynolds School of Journalism receiving their bachelor of arts degrees are Casey Morgan of Carson City, Joseph Crandall of Gardnerville, and Megan Downs and Melissa Risenhoover of Minden.
Carson City has 54 bachelor graduates, the highest number of area students who made the grade. Gardnerville came in second with 21 graduating seniors, followed by Minden with 14.
Also during the advanced degree ceremony on the quad, honorary doctorates will be awarded to former university president Joe Crowley and Nell J. Redfield and Foundation director Gerald C. Smith.
Former university system regent Dorothy Gallagher, her husband and longtime Elko dentist Dr. Thomas Gallagher will be honored along with Albert Abraham Michelson, Nevada's first Nobel Laureate, for their contributions to the state with the Distinguished Nevadan Award.
Travis Linn, the first dean of the university's Reynolds School of Journalism who died Jan. 17, will be recognized posthumously with the President's Medal.
IF YOU GO
What: UNR Undergraduate Ceremony
When: 9:20 a.m.
Where: The University's North Quad