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Graduation at MSU will look a little different this year

March 17, 2021
<p>An MSU student wearing their graduation cap and gown on April 22, 2020.</p>

An MSU student wearing their graduation cap and gown on April 22, 2020.

Photo by Alyte Katilius | The State News

Michigan State University will hold more than 50 limited-attendance outdoor graduation ceremonies for those graduating in the spring 2021 semester. A university-wide convocation will not be held as it has been in years prior. 

All undergraduate ceremonies will take place at large parking lots on campus to allow for appropriate physical distancing, according to a university email. While in the typical graduation season, there are around 20 college and university ceremonies, this year, the more than 50 undergraduate college ceremonies will be broken up by student majors or alphabetically by last name. 

“Graduation is a time-honored academic transition from learning to the world, and the Office of the Provost looks forward to enabling in-person celebrations to recognize this milestone accomplishment for our spring 2021 graduates,” MSU Provost Teresa Woodruff said in an email. “We have resourced every part of our campus community in support of this effort and are confident in our collective abilities to persevere in commending this group of scholars."

Although in previous years, summer graduates were invited to walk the stage in the spring, this semester’s ceremonies will be reserved for spring graduates only due to COVID-19 concerns. Summer graduates will instead be invited to participate in the fall 2021 commencement ceremonies, though many have criticized the decision. 

An in-person ceremony for all spring, summer and fall 2020 graduates is still in the works, though a date has not yet been determined.

With outdoor gathering restrictions in place, each graduate will be permitted up to two guests with tickets required for entrance.

An email from the college of communication arts and sciences Assistant Director of Academic and Student Affairs Jennifer New said students may only attend the ceremony they fit into based on their last name. Accommodations to attend a different ceremony cannot be made at this time.

Though all ceremonies are limited by last name, the email said tickets are on a first-come, first-served basis and recommended RSVPing as soon as the site allows for it.

According to the college of education, due to gathering restrictions, secondary education students must walk only with the college associated with their major. Ceremonies for the college will be broken up by an education and special education group, and four kinesiology groups sorted alphabetically by last name. 

Advanced degree ceremonies for master’s and doctoral degree recipients as well as educational specialists will be held virtually and live-streamed on the MSU Commencement website, an email said. 

An in-person ceremony is currently planned for May 7 for all degrees in the college of veterinary medicine. This will celebrate doctor of veterinary medicine, veterinary nursing, certificate and affiliate graduates, the website said. That week, advanced degree ceremonies will also be held in-person for the college of human medicine and the college of osteopathic medicine. On May 14, the college of law will host their individual ceremony.

The planned undergraduate ceremonies will take place between April 30 and May 2. Locations include parking lots at the Breslin Center, Erickson Hall, Spartan Stadium and the auditorium. All attendees must wear appropriate face coverings at all times on MSU property, according to an email. 

All graduates will receive an invitation the week of March 22. Students and their guests must respond by April 9 if they plan to attend, according to an email from Commencement Committee Chairperson and Associate Provost for Academic Services, Enrollment Management and Academic Initiatives John Gaboury.

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