Commencement held at Tennis Gardens for the first time in history



Photo Courtesy of COD. Last year’s graduating class posing on the football fields.

Commencement for College of the Desert’s graduating Class of 2019 will be held at the Indian Wells Tennis Gardens on May 24 at 7:30 p.m.

This year holds a number of history-making moments for the college. Commencements were previously held the COD football field, but due to the increasing size of the graduation classes over the years, the Class of 2019 will be the first graduating class at COD to walk on the same tennis courts, as world-class tennis professionals such as Andre Agassi, Robert Federer and Serena Williams have played, to receive their diploma. This year’s class is also the largest graduating class the school has ever seen with record-breaking 1,566 students.

Over 750 students will be participating in commencement as opposed to 581 students that walked last year in 2018.

Graduating classes have only grown in the past years:

2018: 1,486 credentials
2017: 1,220 credentials
2016: 1,137 credentials
2015: 1,067 credentials

Dr. Oscar Espinoza-Parra, the dean of Enrollment Services and Student Success, said, “In the last 60 years, a majority of commencements took place at the football fields. Now, we have outgrown the football fields and are very proud to be holding the ceremony at the Tennis Gardens.”

Photo Courtesy of Jared Wickerham. The Indian Wells Tennis Gardens during the 2017 BNP Paribas Open.

Dr. Espinoza-Parra revealed that the choice to move commencement from the COD football field was partially decided from a student survey. The results of the survey showed that the Tennis Gardens were the students top choice, but the main force behind the move was because of size. “Last year we had to order an additional four bleachers for the football fields to accommodate our 6,000 guests. Now with the Tennis Gardens, we have room for the over 10,000 people attending including graduates. We are renting out the entire stadium for the event, both floors. It is most important to us for the students to enjoy their experience and we think having commencement

in this world-class venue will elevate the excitement. We want to honor the students, their hard work and achievements to the utmost level,” said Dr. Espinoza-Parra.

The graduation ceremony is expected to last about 2 hours and will be followed by a reception hosted by the COD Alumni Association outside the stadium. Gates will open at 5:30 p.m. and guests are recommended to arrive as early as possible.

Note for graduates: Rehearsal will take place at 8 a.m. at the Indian Wells Tennis Gardens on May 24. All graduates are expected to attend. It is highly recommended that students attended the rehearsal so that they can be prepared for the actual ceremony: where to park, how long the walk from the parking lot will be, line-up instructions, etc. Graduates, please read your commencement packet and be prepared for warm weather.

Graduates must arrive at 6 p.m. for commencement wearing their cap and gown. Organizers encourage graduates to leave personal belongings in the car or with guests before coming to the line-up area. Graduates are not permitted to carry anything during the ceremony and not required to bring photo ID with them to rehearsal or commencement. This includes cell phones, flower leis, or gifts of any kind.

According to the Tennis Gardens, wrapped gifts or gift bags, balloons, confetti, flower vases, noisemakers or banners, strollers or baby carriers or outside food and drink will be not be allowed into the gates. All bags will be checked at the entrance. An empty standard (16.9 oz.) water bottle is allowed.

Graduates are encouraged to read the commencement packet for detailed instructions on the precessional, receiving their diploma on stage and recessional by going to the admissions section of the COD website.

Tickets are required for all guests over the age of two and those without a ticket will not be allowed to enter the venue. Extra tickets are available at the Admissions and Records department. Parking is free and will be given on a first-come, first serve basis. Follow signs and parking attendant signals for direction. Students need to pick up a red graduate parking pass that will allow special parking in the North Gate. All other cars must park in the South Miles entrance.

Guests can sit in the stadium seating and will be given on a first-come, first serve basis. Accommodations are available for people with disabilities. Please contact the Disabled Students Programs and Services Office at 760-773-2534 or Also, note that graduates will not be divided by last name or major so they are free to sit with their friends during the ceremony.

Contact or visit the Admissions and Records on the second floor of the Cravens building at the Palm Desert campus for any further questions or concerns.

Congratulations to the Class of 2019!

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