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The about 12,000 Iowa State University graduates who completed their degree during the ongoing pandemic — between May 2020 and August 2021 — have been invited to return for a “special commencement celebration,” given many lost the traditional stage-walk experience.
Of the invited graduates, 350 have indicated they plan to attend the single ceremony at 10 a.m. Saturday in Hilton Coliseum, according to the Iowa State News Service. It will honor recipients of all four Iowa State degree types who lost their chance to walk across the stage when the campus shifted its 2020 spring and fall commencements online.
Iowa State — like the Universities of Iowa and Northern Iowa — in spring 2021 offered graduates live ceremonies, although some students opted for virtually-available celebrations given ongoing COVID concerns. And several ISU students who had to miss the rite of passage requested another chance.
“We're very excited to finally celebrate this group of students,” Interim Assistant Registrar Abbie Suntken said in a statement. “They've been through a lot in the last year and a half.”
Iowa State isn’t imposing guest limits for this weekend’s ceremony — which will involve all six colleges in recognizing 252 bachelor’s degree recipients; 45 master’s recipients, 52 doctorate earners; and one receiving a doctor of veterinary medicine.
“Ceremony participants and guests are encouraged to wear face masks indoors when around others,” according to Iowa State officials. “Unvaccinated individuals are encouraged to wear a face mask anywhere they are around others and practice physical distancing when possible.”
Stage and floor chairs will be spaced to create some distance among participants.
But, just like typical years, this fall’s ceremony will include a processional, comments from ISU President Wendy Wintersteen, conferring of degrees, traditional music, and streamers.
Charles Sukup — an ISU alum, chairman of Sukup Manufacturing Co., and professor of practice in the agricultural and biosystems engineering department — will give the commencement address.
All participating graduates will walk across the stage as their name is called. And students will stand for a photo with Wintersteen or Senior Vice President and Provost Jonathan Wickert.
The ceremony — like others — will be livestreamed for anyone unable to attend.
Although the University of Northern Iowa isn’t holding a fall commencement just for those who missed out over the last year and a half, it is holding two winter ceremonies Dec. 18 and report 2020 graduates are invited to attend the 2 p.m. event, where they will be invited to walk across the stage.
Vanessa Miller covers higher education for The Gazette.
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