On November 14th, 2020, Clemson University hosted a series of in-person ceremonies at Bon Secours Wellness Arena in Greenville, S.C. All told more than 1,800 graduates participated in 7 ceremonies over the weekend, all socially distanced and with safety measures permeating the arena. The graduates for these ceremonies were degree recipients completed their degrees in Spring and Summer 2020.
Across four days at the end of November, the University of Tennessee held a series of graduation ceremonies to celebrate their spring, summer and fall graduates. They hosted their ceremonies on campus in their Thompson-Boling Arena. After evaluating restrictions of the venue and distancing measures, the University wisely capped attendance of graduates and their families to help maintain social distancing. Over 1,200 graduates celebrated this milestone achievement across 10 ceremonies.
When the day arrived, graduates would park at the arena and bring their family (up to 4 members) to registration. Once they were checked in, the group would be escorted to a waiting room where the Commencement speeches were played on a television. Once the speeches concluded, the group was escorted to the event floor.
In addition to orchestrating the Virtual Ceremony, Rhode Island College hosted a diploma pickup which it dubbed “Commencement in a Box” where graduates could sign up for a time to pick up a box that contained their diploma, cords, and a program. They also had an opportunity to take a portrait on their RIC custom backdrop. This combination of events was in place of their regular spring commencement.
The University of Central Florida has established an innovative way for each graduate to safely celebrate graduation and receive live individual recognition in front of his or her family. The UCF “Grad Walk” events have successfully happened for multiple days in mid-November for Fall 2020 graduates and will continue in mid-December for Spring and Summer 2020 graduates. Their idea was simple…graduates come to a student union ballroom with up to four guests during a specific time slot they have registered for in advance. The graduate gets to have their name read, walk across a stage, receive their diploma cover, and take an official commencement portrait – all while their guests cheer them on!
With schools across the country having to postpone or cancel their fall in-person graduations in light of COVID-19, GradImages is focused on supporting our partner schools with options to ensure your graduates get as close to a true experience as possible.
Allan Hancock College in Santa Maria, California took a more mobile approach to their graduation ceremony on September 8th, 2020.
At GradImages, we’ve spoken with hundreds of commencement coordinators since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. While most traditional events since mid-March have been cancelled, the conversation is shifting as states begin to move through the phases of reopening. We are hearing less about cancellations and virtual-only options and more about looking at what can be done to give students the most complete commencement experience possible while remaining safe and socially distant. The solution for every institution will differ based on a number of variables, but we would like to present a few success stories from recent ceremonies our clients have hosted.