NORMAL, Ala. (WHNT) — Nearly 500 degrees will be handed out in Alabama A&M University’s (AAMU) new event center for the first time on Friday.

This marks the first commencement ceremony held at the 6,000-person event center, which opened its doors in November.

According to AAMU Registrar Brenda K. Williams, 155 graduate degrees and 306 undergraduate degrees will be awarded during the ceremony.

The commencement is scheduled for December 9 and will begin at 10 a.m.

Dr. Roderick DeWayne Watts, president pro tem of the Alabama A&M University Board of Trustees, will serve as speaker. Watts is a 1986 graduate of Tuskegee University and also graduated from Trinity School of Natural Health and Loomis Institute of Digestive Health.

Watts is an author, a licensed pilot, an inspirational speaker, and lecturer on numerous topics, with a concentration on health and wellness. 

Construction began on the event center in October 2020. The 135,000-square-foot center included a welcome center, arena and a Hall of Fame for former student-athletes.

The event center will serve as a site for sports, graduation ceremonies and other events for years to come. The welcome center building houses the hall of fame, admissions office, meeting rooms and a Chick-fil-A location, according to AAMU social media.

The event center is located on Memorial Parkway between Louis Crews Stadium and the Huntsville Police Department’s (HPD) North Precinct. The welcome center is situated at the corner of Meridian Street and Chase Road.