PULLMAN, Wash. — For the first time in Washington State University’s 111-year history, a fall commencement will take place, set for 9 a.m. Dec. 15.

Traditionally, WSU holds commencement in the spring. The next is May 12. Beasley Performing Arts Coliseum will be the site of both commencements.

According to Dave Guzman, university registrar, the new event meets the need of students graduating in August and December by giving them a ceremony closer to when they complete their studies.

“Although eligible to do so, they traditionally have not returned in spring to take part,” he said. “Commencement is an important part of the academic experience. It brings closure and signals a milestone in an individual’s life. We’re pleased to offer this to our students and their families.”

Because of the number of graduates, spring commencement is held in three ceremonies, with different colleges participating in each. For fall commencement, all colleges will take part in a single ceremony.

WSU spring commencement has about 2,700 graduates, some 1,000 per ceremony. About 600-800 students are expected to take part in the first fall commencement.

“We anticipate this number will grow in future years as students learn of the option to graduate soon after they earn their academic degrees,” Guzman said.

Similar to what is offered to spring graduates, students planning to take part in the fall ceremony will have a “Graduation Salute” at the Bookie, WSU’s student bookstore, to pick up caps and gowns and order graduation announcements and class rings. The salute will be held in late October.

Both WSU and the University of Idaho in Moscow will hold their fall commencement ceremonies on Dec. 15. Also, WSU’s will take place just before the start of final examinations, Dec. 17-21.

“This should not be problematic,” Guzman said. “We are confident of the exam and grading process. Also, we are sure the area motels will have rooms available for family and friends to attend either university’s fall commencement.”