2021 in-person graduation ceremony


Sam Tapper – Editor-in-Chief

Abby Epstein – Managing Editor

With the vaccination rollout continuing throughout the state, the university announced it will hold an in-person graduation ceremony for the Class of 2021, according to an email sent on behalf of Director of Integrated Communications and Marketing Patrick Dilger, Adanti Student Center Director Brad Crerar and Adanti Student Center Administrative Assistant Lisa Horelick last Wednesday.

“We’re pleased to announce that Southern will be holding in-person commencement ceremonies this May, outdoors, on campus,” the email stated. “Each student will be able to have two guests in attendance and the ceremonies will be live streamed so other family members and friends may view the events virtually.”

Dilger received word from the system office a few weeks ago that the university would be allowed to hold on-ground graduation events if it can be social distant and COVID-19 guidelines could be followed.

“When we heard that, we basically did a lot of measuring of campus to see what size of event we could host,” said Dilger.

Last May, the university held a virtual commencement for the Class of 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This year’s commencement, according to the email, will be held at Jess Dow Field, as opposed to Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport where the ceremony was held in years past.

“We did not think we would be able to have an event with parents or friends,” said Dilger. “We looked at Jess Dow field and did a schematic of the bleachers, so if we have approximately 500 students per ceremony, we’ll be able to fit roughly 1,000 spectators.”

According to Vice President of Student Affairs Tracy Tyree, the university was looking at putting graduation in the Academic Quad that only would have allowed graduates. The ultimate decision came to having graduation on Jess Dow field as spectators will be able to attend while socially distancing.

“Due to social distancing requirements, there will be five individual ceremonies by college/school. Each will be combined events for undergraduates and graduates,” the email said.

The five ceremonies, according to the email, will begin on Tuesday, May 18 at 10:00 a.m. for students in the College of Arts and Sciences who study STEM disciplines, psychology, general studies and interdisciplinary studies. Another ceremony will follow at 2:00 p.m. on the same day for all students in the liberal arts for the College of Arts and Sciences.

The remaining three ceremonies will be held on Wednesday, May 19, beginning at 9:00 a.m., beginning with the College of Health and Human Services. Following that will be the School of Business at 12:30 p.m. and concluding with the College of Education at 4:00 p.m. In case weather is bad, May 20 and May 21 are being held as rain delay dates.

According to the email, the Honors’ Convocation will not be held, but all students receiving honors will be able to walk and receive their diplomas.

“We will be recognizing Honor students when they come up to receive their diploma. Their name will be called but also all of their awards will be recognized as well,” said Dilger. “They will also be recognized in the program. We will have a combined program for each ceremony.”

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