Penn State will host in-person commencement ceremonies for graduating students this spring, according to an email from university President Eric Barron on Wednesday.
Planned events will take place at Beaver Stadium during the originally scheduled spring 2021 commencement weekend of May 7 to 9. Virtual livestream options will be available for those who are unable to attend or prefer to participate online.
Since last spring commencement ceremonies have been virtual-only events because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Gov. Tom Wolf announced on Monday that maximum occupancy limits for outdoor gatherings will increase to 50% capacity and indoor gatherings to 25% capacity beginning April 4.
Spring 2021 ceremonies will adhere to the following schedule:
Friday, May 7, 2021
The Graduate School, Beaver Stadium
College of Engineering, Beaver Stadium
Saturday, May 8, 2021
Smeal College of Business, Beaver Stadium
Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications, Beaver Stadium
College of Education, Beaver Stadium
College of Information Sciences and Technology, Beaver Stadium
College of Arts and Architecture, Beaver Stadium
College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, Beaver Stadium
College of Nursing, Beaver Stadium
Eberly College of Science, Beaver Stadium
Sunday, May 9, 2021
College of Agricultural Sciences, Beaver Stadium
College of Health and Human Development, Beaver Stadium
College of the Liberal Arts, Beaver Stadium
University Wide Virtual Ceremony
Commonwealth Campuses will each host their own respective ceremonies. Graduates at those campuses are invited to the university-wide virtual ceremony at 6 p.m. on May 9.
Graduates will be permitted to each bring along two guests, who will be seated in pods of up to three people (a graduate plus two guests). This will be done to maintain “appropriate physical distancing.”
“Our commencement ceremonies will look different from what they have in the past, but with health and safety as our top priority we are pleased to be able to offer an opportunity to gather in person,” Barron said in an email. “To adjust for COVID-19 physical distancing protocols that protect the health and safety of students, guests and employees in attendance, seating in the stadium will be organized to allow for physical distancing, graduates will not be called upon to walk across the stage, and names will not be read. However, each graduate’s name, degree and major will be featured on a video board during the ceremony.”
Tickets will be required for all graduates and guests attending in-person ceremonies at Beaver Stadium. According to Penn State, ticket registration will occur through a two-step process via emails sent to graduates “later this month.” In April, graduates who RVSP will receive another email to secure their tickets.
All in-person ceremonies at Beaver Stadium will be livestreamed for folks at home to enjoy. In-person events are strictly optional and available for those who feel comfortable moving forward with them.
According to Barron, in the event of severe weather, in-person commencement ceremonies won’t be rescheduled.
Penn State will not strictly require graduates and guests to be tested for COVID-19 before the in-person events. However, Barron implored the Penn State community to stay vigilant to ensure these opportunities can safely occur.
“While we look forward to celebrating in person, we must all continue to be vigilant and to follow health and safety guidance regarding COVID-19,” Barron said. “The University is prepared to adjust our plans if needed based on changing virus conditions or public health guidelines.”
Barron said Penn State’s plans could change if Governor Tom Wolf continues easing statewide regulations on in-person gatherings. Beginning April 4, outdoor events can be held at up to 50% capacity.
Additionally, Penn State and its Alumni Association are working on planning a “special weekend” in spring 2022 to celebrate the Class of 2020. More information and a specific date regarding that will be “forthcoming” as Penn State continues its planning and research.