UC Davis Announces Limited In-Person Commencement for 2021 Graduates

By Jess Taylor

DAVIS – Chancellor Gary Mays officially announced that UC Davis will be holding a limited in-person commencement ceremony for 2021 graduates. 

The pandemic has caused an immense amount of strain on all people, and for graduating students, a sense of utter disappointment. Graduating from a renowned university is more than a mere accomplishment; it is a groundbreaking achievement earned through countless hours of hard work and dedication.

In Chancellor May’s email to the UCD body, he writes, “A diploma is perhaps an inadequate means of representing the countless days and nights of hard work spent towards that end, but it still an incredibly meaningful acknowledgment, and its transference is a joyous occasion.”

Earlier in the 2020-2021 academic year, the university regretfully announced that an in-person commencement ceremony would not be occurring. Saying the chancellor’s recent announcement is joyful to graduates is an understatement. 

Having the recognition of earning a degree at an outstanding university is important in a student’s life. Though the ceremony will be limited to two guests per graduate, students will be publicly honored for their strenuous work.

“Thankfully our university and city community has been incredibly diligent and cautious, and we can now enjoy the benefits of our hard work,” Chancellor Mays says.

The county has incrementally improved in maintaining low COVID-19 cases, remaining in the orange tier as it has been in for weeks. The positivity rate has steadily decreased, where it is at 0.6 percent as of April 13. In fact, local public officials are predicting Yolo County to move into the yellow tier.

Regulations for the commencement will be upheld to ensure the health of the graduates, their guests, community, staff and faculty will not be compromised. 

The guests accompanying graduates will be required to show completed vaccination cards upon entering the facilities. Graduates themselves must have proof of either completed vaccination cards or a negative test taken within 72 hours before the ceremony. Those coming from out-of-state to graduate must have a completed vaccination card.

The commencement will be live-streamed for those who cannot attend, so they may “witness this important milestone.”

Guests and graduates are asked to arrive in the Pavilion parking structure, where festivities will begin once all soon-to-be alumni check in. There will be a series of tents with various themes for fun photo ops.

Graduates will be broken up into groups before receiving their degrees on stage. A ceremonial scroll will be given, but the shaking of hands will not occur for COVID-19 safety guidelines. To uphold COVID-19 precautions and regulations, there will be no programs given out or speakers at the ceremony. The graduate’s name will be read aloud on the main stage in front of a group of campus leaders.

Though masks will be required to be worn at all times of the event, the graduate on stage will be allowed to take it off to have a professional photographer take a picture of the special moment and massive accomplishment. 

Before heading back to the parking structure, new alumni will quickly celebrate in a tent organized by the Cal Aggie Alumni Association, where graduates will receive information on how to obtain a free gift after the commemoration.

The graduations organizers ask that groups not linger, so the ceremonial area can be prepared for the next group, maintaining social distancing and ceremonial efficiency.

Each group will be limited to 300 graduates, where ceremonies will be held from June 10-13.

FAQs for the commencement are available online discussing how to receive the diploma, register and order the cap and gown. Those eligible to participate must have received a degree in September 2020, December 2020 or expect to receive a degree in March 2021, June 2021 or September 2021.

Unfortunately, the university regrets that they cannot welcome back the class of 2020 to participate in the ceremony. Still, they assure a celebration for 2020 graduates will occur when deemed safe to do so.

Students eligible to graduate will receive an email giving more details on the logistics of the events and how to participate.

The chancellor signs off, “So much has happened over the past 13 months, and you all have truly shown a new definition of Aggie Pride in the way you have responded. We must continue to be vigilant and cautious, but I hope these commencement events will provide a small relief and prove that the light at the end of the tunnel is indeed brighter. Fiat Lux!”

Jess Taylor is in her senior year at UC Davis from a small town called Wheatland. She is finishing her studies in English and Human Rights.

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