It’s an important academic tradition that after years of study and hard work, students gather with classmates, professors, friends and family to celebrate their college graduation with a commencement ceremony.
President M. Roy Wilson knows how much that recognition means to students and their loved ones. That’s why, at his request, the university is planning a special event, dubbed Commencement Redux, for the approximately 11,000 students who graduated during the pandemic but were unable to attend in-person events.
Although the specifics are still being figured out, the event to be held in April 2022 will be similar to a regular graduation with names called, a walk across a stage, presentation of a scroll representing degrees and photo opportunities. It will be separate from that May’s commencements and include an appropriate keynote speaker.
“Our students deserve a special day of their own when it is safe and practical,” said Wilson. “They worked hard, and we want to give them an opportunity to celebrate with pomp and circumstance.”
The idea for the event stems from a commencement Wilson attended in 1995 at the University of Natal in South Africa. That event was a reconciliation ceremony for Black students who graduated over more than 40 years but didn’t get a ceremony because of apartheid.
“I have attended a lot of graduations over the years, but that is one that I will never forget,” said Wilson, who attended as part of a delegation of U.S. higher education officials. “It was very powerful to see how much that event meant to those graduates who had endured so much. Although the circumstances are not comparable, it made me think that our students have also persevered through a challenging time, and should be recognized.”
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Special virtual commencement ceremonies for winter and spring/summer term graduates will take place Wednesday, May 5, 2021. Visit the commencement webpage for the ceremony schedule, FAQ, and to send congratulatory e-cards.