As you may have read in previous issues of Newsline, this year, DePaul's commencement ceremonies have moved to Wintrust Arena and the McCormick Place Grand Ballroom in Chicago's South Loop. Jen Kramer, director of university events, is collaborating with units across the university in leading this year's change in venue and procedures.
After nearly 20 years of events experience with the City of Chicago Mayor's office and Navy Pier, Kramer joined the Office of University Events in September 2017 to help build affinity through DePaul's most prestigious ceremonies and celebrations.
Before joining the university as a staff member last fall, Kramer taught an event planning course as an adjunct faculty member for three years in the College of Communication.
"Thanks to my time in the classroom, I've had a real affinity for DePaul for several years now," Kramer says. "As soon as this position was created, I knew I wanted to lend my experience and skills to the university in a new way."
Created in fall 2017 and housed in the Office of the Secretary, the Office of University Events is responsible for the planning, management and execution of a number of annual DePaul events, including Academic Convocation, Christmas at DePaul and commencement. Kramer's first introduction to the production of DePaul events, however, came with the inauguration of the university's 12th president, A. Gabriel Esteban, Ph.D. in November.
"I really had to hit the ground running with inauguration - I started only six weeks before that event," Kramer laughs. "Obviously most of the leg work was done well before I became director, which made all the difference in its execution. Jess Hallam and the rest of the team really did a wonderful job. Although this office and role are very new to the university, I'm excited to continue building on the momentum we've gained over the last six months."
Along with the change in venue for this year's commencement ceremonies, the university also incorporated a ticketing process and other procedures that correspond with Wintrust Arena's safety regulations. Kramer and her team also are looking at national trends and new event technologies to see if there are ways to enhance the commencement experience for graduates and their families.
"Commencement is one of the most monumental days for our students and their loved ones," Kramer says. "It's the day they've worked towards since they stepped foot on campus. We want to do our best to make sure it's as meaningful and memorable as possible."