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IOWA CITY - All three of Iowa's public universities are taking advantage of their expansive football stadiums to resume more traditional - albeit distanced and masked - in-person graduation celebrations this spring, including a novel University of Iowa event set for May 16 in Kinnick Stadium.
The in-person events at the UI and the University of Northern Iowa, which is hosting three ceremonies May 7-8 in the UNI-Dome, come after both campuses earlier this year had announced commencements again would be virtual this spring.
With a vaccine now more widely available and new case numbers down - and after a Republican lawmaker proposed legislation that would have forced the campuses to hold in-person graduations - the schools reversed course.
Iowa State University, having planned to wait to unveil commencement plans, in March announced four celebrations or ceremonies in Jack Trice Stadium and Hilton Coliseum.
All three universities still are offering virtual options for those students uncomfortable with in-person events.
Both ISU and UI have been careful to call their football stadium events 'celebrations” instead of official commencements.
'While this will not be an official commencement ceremony and will not replace the university's virtual commencement ceremonies, we hope that graduates and their families will take this additional opportunity to celebrate all that they have achieved,” according to a UI message on the Kinnick event.
'This offers students and families more flexibility on choosing an event that meets their comfort level during the COVID-19 pandemic,” according to the message. 'Students can participate in virtual commencement, the in-person celebration, or both.”
The University of Iowa
celebration for all spring 2021 graduates will start at 3 p.m. May 16 in Kinnick, with gates opening at 1:30 p.m. Each graduate can invite two guests and everyone must wear a mask and follow social distancing.
Although Kinnick will display graduate names and pictures on its video board before and after the program, students won't walk across a stage and instead will stand to be honored with others from their college.
The event will include a short program, with remarks from UI administrators and student leaders. Graduates can wear cap-and-gown attire but don't have to. Any wanting to participate must RSVP by May 1 to get electronic tickets.
The celebration will occur 'rain or shine,” although it will be canceled and not rescheduled if the National Weather Service reports lightning or severe storms.
The university also will livestream the event on its YouTube Channel.
Additionally, the UI will individually recognize each participating graduate through virtual ceremonies spanning May 13 to May 16 - plus a Master of Business Administration ceremony May 22 and a College of Dentistry ceremony June 4.
Find more details here.
bachelor's celebration will happen May 8 in Jack Trice Stadium, with several separate events organized by college.
Times can be found here.
Programs will be shorter than usual but will include the reading of names and graduates crossing a stage.
ISU isn't limiting guest attendance 'due to the large capacity and outdoor setting of the stadium,” according to a message from ISU President Wendy Wintersteen.
A similar event for master's graduates will happen in Jack Trice at 11 a.m. May 7.
Hilton Coliseum will host in-person events for doctoral and veterinary medicine graduates at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. May 7. Guests will be limited at those ceremonies to ensure physical distancing.
Everyone who attends any of the ceremonies must wear a face mask.
Although ISU's in-person events this spring will honor only spring or summer 2021 graduates, the campus vows to invite back spring, summer and fall 2020 graduates for a future in-person commencement 'when conditions allow.”
ISU also plans to livestream its events.
Find more information here.
three in-person events for spring 2021 graduates May 7-8 in the UNI-Dome will supplement its virtual ceremony.
The live celebrations will recognize bachelor's and master's graduates in the colleges of Business Administration and Social and Behavioral Sciences at 7 p.m. May 7; in the colleges of Education and Continuing Education at 10 a.m. May 8; and in the College of Humanities, Arts and Sciences at 2 p.m. May 8.
Graduates will be allowed four guests - with a livestream option for those unable to attend.
Students must RSVP for tickets, and 'seating for each graduate's group will be randomly assigned and socially distanced from other groups.”
UNI administrators will announce graduate names during the ceremonies as students cross the stage. They plan to recognize doctoral graduates in a separate ceremony, although details are forthcoming.
'While we are excited to recognize our graduates and honor their hard work, we will continue to monitor public health information and guidelines to ensure this event can occur safely,” according to a UNI commencement message. 'If we need to modify these plans as a result of an increase in COVID-19 numbers, we will provide as much advance notice as possible.”
In addition to its virtual ceremonies, which will look similar to those used last year, UNI will livestream the in-person events.
Find more details here.
In addition to the UI celebration in Kinnick, the campus will host a five-day 'Hawkeye Farewell” from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily May 10-14 on the UI Pentacrest. The event will include distribution of commencement materials, professional photo opportunities, a chance to pose with Herky the mascot in front of the Old Capitol and other activities.
The celebration will move indoors to 208 Calvin Hall in bad weather.
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