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The graduates were a sea of blue during a previous commencement ceremony held at Cal State Bakersfield. The university is expecting more than 11,000 guests to attend this year's undergraduate commencement ceremony beginning at 8 a.m. Friday at the CSUB soccer field.

Californian file photo

If you're planning to attend the big Cal State Bakersfield commencement ceremony Friday morning at the university's main soccer field, you won't need a college degree to figure out that you'd better get there early.

Just do the math: 1,528 grads, each receiving seven priority tickets for friends and family — equals 10,000-plus guests, not counting those who show up without a ticket.

This may be more like a rock concert than a traditional rendition of "Pomp and Circumstance."

"This is by far the largest event we hold on campus over the course of a year," said Michael Lukens, CSUB's director of public affairs and communications.

It's also likely the largest single commencement ceremony ever held at CSUB, as previous undergrad commencements were typically broken into two events, Lukens said.

CSUB's 48th annual undergraduate commencement ceremony kicks off at 8 a.m. Guests with priority tickets must arrive before 7:15 a.m., but doors (and gates) will open at 5:30 a.m., and seats are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Saving seats will not be allowed, Lukens said, so Aunt Margie or cousin Jorge will not be able to hold a row of seats. This rule will be enforced, he said.

CSUB President Horace Mitchell, who has led the university for the past 14 years, will be leading the ceremony for the final time. It's sure to be an emotional moment for the popular administrator, who has long been the public face of CSUB.

"It's going to be an emotional moment for a lot of people," Lukens said, "to see him up there for the last time."

Mitchell was not available for comment Tuesday.

Guests without priority tickets and those who prefer indoor seating will have the option of viewing the ceremonies on a large video board in the Icardo Center. The video board will show each student while on stage and will contain graphics showing each student’s name and major.

Guests unable to attend in person may enjoy the ceremonies remotely via Livestream at https://csub.edu/commencement.

A reception for graduates and their families and friends will be held immediately following the ceremony in the Student Reception Center. At the reception, graduates and guests will have an opportunity to interact and take photos with President Mitchell, administrators, faculty, classmates and families.

A ceremony for graduate students will be held Thursday, where the university will hood master’s and doctoral degree candidates. The ceremony begins at 6 p.m. in the Icardo Center. A total of 319 students have registered to participate. No tickets are required for this ceremony.

Due to the large crowds expected to attend the undergraduate ceremony Friday, traffic controls and road closures will be in place on and around the CSUB campus. Camino Media will be closed to thru traffic starting at 5 a.m. at Haggin Oaks Boulevard and Scarlet Oak and will be open only for commencement traffic and parking.

Traffic controls will be in place on Stockdale Highway both before and after the ceremony. At the conclusion of the ceremony, additional traffic controls will be established at Gosford Road and Kroll Way.

Guests are encouraged to carpool with family and friends, as parking will be limited to 7,000 spaces. Guests may enter through any entrance of the campus. As lots are filled, cars will be routed to open areas of campus or areas nearby.

Golden Empire Transit and CSUB buses will provide shuttle services from the north and west sides of campus to the main venue on the south side of campus. Each stop will be color coded for ease of guests remembering where they parked after the ceremonies.

Parking is free for both the undergraduate and graduate ceremonies.

"There are a lot of people who have been working on this for months," Lukens said of Friday's event and the huge crowds it will draw.

"We're ready for it."

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