MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The time has come to bid them farewell and good luck.

“It’s always very moving to me to see students and their families together and see the joy all of them are having celebrating this achievement,” expressed WVU President Dr. Gordon Gee. “They’re going into the world to save it or make it better.”

West Virginia University has a May 2017 graduating class of 4,500 students.

According to Lisa Martin with university events, approximately 3,500 will participate in commencement ceremonies that are scheduled Friday through Sunday.

There are 17 ceremonies for 15 colleges and schools.

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WVU President Gordon Gee commencement weekend is special.

The WVU Coliseum, under heavy renovation in May 2016, is in better order for the 2017 graduates.

“This year the coliseum renovations are mostly done. There are a few things left inside. But, I think the guests and graduates will be very much pleased with what they have on the inside. (It’s) business as usual this year,” Martin insisted.

Many of this spring’s graduates have been a part of programs within WVU’s Center for Service and Learning that have taken them on volunteer missions around the state.

Kristi Wood-Turner is the center’s director.

“Even if you go smoothly through, there’s always obstacles, always things you’re learning, always growing. To see all the effort put in as staff and everyone around in the community, to see that polished person at the end leave as an adult ready to actually join the workforce or join the community, you can’t beat that,” she said.

Gee, anticipating a weekend of pomp and circumstance, said he has never been president of a university that has such an intense love of the state.

“This is a state that last year went through terrible flooding and a number of things that have been a real consequence,” said Gee. “Now an opportunity to say we love the people of this state, they support us, make our lives better and we want to make their lives better also.”

Of the more than 4,500 graduates in this class, 3,083 will receive undergraduate degrees or certificates, 915 their master’s degrees and 531 have earned their doctorates.

The Reed College of Media students will take the stage first on Friday at the Coliseum. The celebrations will last until the School of Medicine Professionals move their tassels to the left on Sunday, May 14.

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