May 09, 2013 12:00AM
For the nearly 1,140 Pittsburg State University students who will receive their diplomas this week, commencement weekend is one of the biggest of their lives.
However, they aren’t the only ones looking forward to the festivities. B.J. Harris, director of the Crawford County Convention and Visitors Bureau, has this weekend marked on his calendar every year.
“This is a big weekend,” Harris said. “There are only six or eight times in a year that we fill up every hotel room in the city. Commencement weekend is one of those times.”
With parents, siblings, relatives and friends coming to town to town for the occasion, Harris said the economic impact of commencement weekend cannot be overstated.
“Once you factor in hotel rooms, food, gas and any other shopping that people do while they’re here,” he said, “you can easily start to see an economic impact of close to $500,000.”
Lawana Esch, general manager of the Holiday Inn Express and president of the CVB advisory board, said she sees first-hand the impact of commencement weekend.
“We fill up, and it starts early,” she said. “We start receiving reservations in September and October for the May ceremony. It’s a strong, viable weekend for us, all of the local hotels and for the entire community.”
Both Harris and Esch said PSU plays a vital role in the economic strength of Pittsburg and Crawford County.
“We are very fortunate, from a travel and tourism perspective, to have PSU in our community,” Harris said. “It’s safe to say that we wouldn’t have a CVB without PSU.”
Pittsburg State University will observe its 110th spring commencement on Friday and Saturday, May 10-11.
Commencement exercises for students in the College of Business as well as students in the College of Arts and Sciences from the departments of Art; Communication; History, Philosophy and Social Sciences; and General Studies, will begin at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, May 10.
The second ceremony, for students from the remaining departments in the College of Arts and Sciences, will begin at 8 p.m.
On Saturday, May 11, commencement exercises for students in the College of Technology will begin at 9 a.m.
The final ceremony, for students in the College of Education, will begin at 11 a.m.
All of the ceremonies will be held in the Weede Physical Education Building, 1701 S. Homer.