PULLMAN, Wash. — For the first time in Washington State University’s 111-year history, the university will hold a fall commencement. The 9 a.m. ceremony is planned for Dec. 15 in the Beasley Performing Arts Coliseum.

About 350 graduating students from summer and fall semester are expected to take part. Twenty-seven of the graduates are doctoral candidates and 41 are master’s candidates. The commencement will complement WSU’s annual spring graduation in May.

WSU added a fall commencement so students graduating in August and December could participate in a ceremony closer to the end of their studies. Although students are eligible to graduate in the spring, many choose to return home immediately after classes end, said Dave Guzman, university registrar.

“Commencement is an important part of the academic experience,” he said. “It brings closure and signals a milestone in an individual’s life.”

U.S. Rep. George R. Nethercutt Jr. will deliver the commencement address. Nethercutt, from Spokane, graduated from WSU in 1967.

Jesse Keene, president of the Associated Students of WSU, also will speak, and WSU President V. Lane Rawlins and Provost Ron Hopkins will preside.