University to hold two commencement ceremonies


Lauren Alley

Baker University will hold two commencement ceremonies at Liston Stadium on May 22.

Story by Maya Hodison, Staff Writer

Update: Due to changes in social distancing guidelines, Academic Affairs announced on Mar. 29 that May 2021 graduates are now allowed to have up to five guests in attendance. 

An email sent from Vice President of Academic Affairs Marcus Childress to graduating seniors on Mar. 10 provided updates on the format of the upcoming spring Commencement Ceremony.

There will be two different commencement ceremonies held at Liston Stadium on May 22. The first, held at 11 a.m., will honor the December 2019, May 2020 and December 2020 classes that were unable to have a traditional commencement due to both inclement weather and COVID-19 protocols.

The second ceremony will be held at 2 p.m. and includes the May 2021 graduates from the College of Arts and Sciences, School of Education and School of Nursing.

Due to COVID-19 guidelines, the University is taking capacity limits and social distancing seriously. Masks will be required of all in attendance.

In addition, each May 2021 graduate will only be allowed to invite two people to attend in person.  According to Childress, the ticket allotment was based on the population.

“Based on the number of participating graduates, we can allow two guests per graduate,” Childress stated.

As someone with a blended family, Senior Sophie Heldenbrand feels the ticket limit is inconsiderate. She has easily decided to invite her biological parents, but having her step-parents and the rest of her close family members there to share the special moment would be ideal.

“It is very saddening for the people in my life who have been at all my big milestones and have to miss this one,” Heldenbrand said. “This is an accomplishment I have worked hard for at a school I love and have done nothing but given praise to.”

Senior Ashley Pippin understands the University has made this decision due to safety reasons, but she wishes there was a way around it.

“If the school is allowing spectators to games and having in-person classes, I am not sure what the difference is for a situation like this, especially since it is outside and masks are required,” Pippin said.

Nonetheless, the ceremony will be available via livestream for family and friends who will not be in attendance.

Though seats at the stadium are a commodity, as graduates are being given limited tickets, current Baker students and staff are permitted to attend on a first come first serve basis. According to another Academic Affairs email sent to all students and staff members on Mar. 16, they must submit an attendee form by Apr. 30. The form will be available until all vacant seats are full.

Students may also volunteer as traffic controllers or work as gate check-in assistance by submitting a volunteer attendee form by Apr. 30. Volunteers will have guaranteed admittance inside but must stay in their designated areas.

Senior Kassandra Graves feels tickets should be primarily saved for people that graduates choose since the ceremony honors them.

Graves has a big family whom she cherishes, which made choosing two people difficult. She and her family understand the COVID-19 regulations, but they are still hurt that they are not all able to see the youngest in the family graduate from college in person.

“Having to choose only two means I was not able to pick all who I want to be there because I had to focus on who needs to be there,” Graves said.

She eventually came to the decision to give the tickets to her parents, but Graves wishes her five older siblings and her grandparents could be there as they are important to her as well.

In order to designate chosen guests, graduates will need to complete a Ceremony Guest Information Form by Apr. 30. The University has developed a system indicating specific gates that guests will enter through. Their names must be on the list to be granted entrance, unless a guest is three years old or younger and is able to sit on someone’s lap throughout the ceremony.

In case of inclement weather, the ceremonies will be moved to May 23 at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.

Students are encouraged to contact the Office of Academic Affairs at [email protected] or the Office of the Registrar at [email protected] with any questions or concerns regarding the Commencement Ceremony.