University of California at Merced will hold two graduation ceremonies this spring as a result of the largest class in its history featuring keynote speakers David Mas Masumoto and Jose Hernandez.
UC Merced's eighth commencement exercises are May 18 and 19, both beginning at 9 a.m. More than 900 students are eligible, the university said.
Fresno State's 102nd commencement will be May 18 at the Save Mart Center. Fresno State for many years also has held special ceremonies for each of its schools; most are held the day before the campuswide commencement ceremony.
Last year, nearly 5,000 students were eligible for Fresno State's commencement.
Fresno Pacific University's commencement is scheduled May 4.
Hernandez will deliver the keynote address for the May 18 UC Merced ceremony. Hernandez, a retired astronaut and engineer from Stockton, unsuccessfully ran for Congress last year.
Students in the schools of natural sciences and engineering will take part in the May 18 commencement.
Students in the school of social sciences, humanities and arts will hear from Masumoto during the May 19 graduation ceremony. Masumoto, an acclaimed author and organic farmer from Del Rey, writes a monthly column in The Bee on the San Joaquin Valley and its people. On New Year's Day, he was confirmed as the San Joaquin Valley's first representative on the National Council on the Arts. His first meeting is Friday.
Jane Lawrence, UC Merced's vice chancellor of student affairs, said one of the most important aspects about graduation is celebrating students' achievement and when graduation ceremonies get large, the opportunity to really acknowledge each student kind of fades away.