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In 1854, the first two University of Wisconsin degrees were conferred, and 164 years later, the spring commencement tradition continues. What does it take to carry out this ceremony of time-honored tradition? For starters, commencement had to be split into two ceremonies in the 1980s due to so many graduating students. The larger of the two — with 6,300 to 6,400 graduates for bachelor’s, law, and master’s degrees — is held on Saturday of commencement weekend in Camp Randall. But the number of chairs that are set up is closer to 6,500: in addition to seating the graduates, those chairs hold some 120 faculty, staff, and members of the chancellor’s entourage, plus the six commencement speakers. To place these chairs (and to wrangle several thousand rowdy graduates), nearly 1,000 employees and volunteers report for duty to serve as marshals, ushers, flag bearers, and more. This celebration brings more than 40,000 family members and friends to Madison to celebrate the Badger grads whom they love. The smaller of the ceremonies — for about 1,000 graduates who are earning doctoral and medical professional degrees — is held on Friday of commencement weekend in the Kohl Center. Happy graduation, everyone!

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