UWG announced that it will have two in-person commencement ceremonies Saturday, May 15, at the University Stadium for spring graduates.
Graduating seniors will have the opportunity to walk across the stage at the end of the spring semester and be recognized for their achievements through a traditional commencement ceremony. Although not the same as previous graduation ceremonies due to COVID-19, students can expect to receive much of the same experience as previous graduates.
“The Commencement Planning Committee has made every effort to protect the excitement surrounding the commencement ceremony in a safe, responsible way given the circumstances,” said Elizabeth Smith, Director for Auxiliary Enterprises and Chair of the Commencement Planning Committee at UWG. “We received positive feedback following the fall commencement ceremonies that students enjoyed the event and did not feel it was significantly altered from previous ceremonies.
“The current number of students who plan to participate in the spring ceremonies is lower than the number of students we hosted in December,” continued Smith. “At those ceremonies, we celebrated graduates from the spring, summer and fall 2020 semesters.”
Following similar protocol as previous commencement events, students have been assigned a ceremony time based on their college. Graduates from the College of Arts, Culture and Scientific Inquiry, the Richards College of Business and the Tanner Health System School of Nursing will take their seats in the stadium field at 9 a.m. The second ceremony will begin promptly at 12:30 p.m. for graduates in the College of Education and the University College. Approximately 1,100 graduates plan to participate in the two ceremonies scheduled for the end of this semester. Because of COVID-19 concerns, hosting multiple ceremony times is even more important than before.
“The University will follow the same health and safety precautions for the spring 2021 ceremonies as were followed for the fall 2020 ceremonies,” said Smith. “We have followed the guidance of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Georgia Department of Public Health and the University System of Georgia throughout our response to the COVID-19 pandemic including the planning of large events like commencement.”
The University Stadium was determined to be the safest venue to host such an event considering the large number of guests expected to attend and the need for physical distancing. To ensure physical distancing is maintained throughout the duration of the ceremonies, attendees are expected to follow a number of protocols.
“All students and guests will be required to wear face coverings and sit in predetermined, physically distanced seating,” said Smith. “Additionally, there will be no student processional, as they will be seated on the field upon their arrival. All graduates will be individually recognized, but there will not be a traditional handshake with the president.”
In addition to the socially distanced seating for students on the field, guests will be seated in family groups throughout the stadium bleachers. Graduates are allowed to have up to four guests attend the in-person ceremony, and each guest will be required to have a ticket to enter the stadium. It is requested that students do not exchange tickets, so distance can be maintained between groups. Students will receive more information regarding ticket pick-up in April. For those who are unable to attend, the ceremonies will be live-streamed and available for viewing and download afterward.
“The ceremonies will look different than their pre-2020 predecessors, but students will still be able to celebrate their accomplishments in a safe, responsible way,” said Smith.