After canceling commencement a year ago because of the COVID-19 pandemic, local colleges and universities will once again hold in-person graduation ceremonies — lots of them — starting Friday.
Most schools have made several changes to commencement to provide a socially distanced experience. Ceremonies in some cases will be held over multiple days. Some institutions have picked new and larger venues to give graduates and their families plenty of room to spread out.
Most schools also cut back on the number of friends-and-family tickets issued to each graduate. UNCG and N.C. A&T, for instance, whose commencements are usually open to the general public, gave each graduate just two commencement tickets this year.
Most local colleges and universities will require graduates and guests to wear face coverings. Ceremonies to be held outside will take place rain or shine because schools lack indoor venues to accommodate a socially-distanced crowd. Some schools will honor the class of 2020 that missed commencement last May.
Don’t worry if you can’t attend: Local schools plan to livestream their commencement ceremonies on their websites.
Here are the 2021 commencement plans for each local college and university, with schools listed in order by the dates of their ceremonies:
UNCG: The area’s largest university expects to award nearly 2,900 degrees May 7-8 at five ceremonies, all at the Greensboro Coliseum. Bachelor’s and master’s graduates from 2021 will get their degrees May 7: 9 a.m. (health and human sciences, nursing, Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering, UNCG Online, interdisciplinary master’s, Beyond Academics); 1 p.m. (visual and performing arts, education and business and economics); and 5 p.m. (College of Arts and Sciences). May 8: 9 a.m. (2020 bachelor’s and master’s graduates) and 2 p.m. (doctoral hooding ceremony for 2020 and 2021 graduates).
Guilford College: Two ceremonies May 7-8 in Dana Auditorium on campus. 3 p.m. May 7: for July 2019, December 2019 and May 2020 graduates. 9 a.m. May 8: for August 2020, December 2020 and May 2021 graduates. Virtual baccalaureate service is 7 p.m. May 14. Virtual commencement for 2019, 2020 and 2021 graduates is 9 a.m. May 15. Jocelyn Bell Burnell, a British and Quaker astrophysicist who discovered pulsars, will speak.
High Point University: Two ceremonies at 10 a.m. May 7-8 along the Innovation Corridor on campus. May 7: Master’s and doctoral graduates from December 2020 and May 2021 and bachelor’s graduates from May 2020. May 8: Bachelor’s graduates from December 2020 and May 2021. Cynthia “Cynt” Marshall, CEO of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks, will speak at both ceremonies.
Greensboro College: 10 a.m. May 8 on front campus for 2021 graduates. Virtual baccalaureate is at 5 p.m. May 7.
N.C. A&T: Two ceremonies May 9 at Truist Stadium on campus — 8:30 a.m. (2021 graduates) and 4:30 p.m. (spring, summer and fall 2020 graduates). Emmy Award-winning actor Sterling K. Brown (“This is Us,” “Black Panther”) will speak via video at both ceremonies. A&T estimates that about 2,500 graduates will take part in the two commencements.
GTCC: Two ceremonies May 13 at the Greensboro Coliseum. 11 a.m.: Aviation, health sciences, human services and public safety and engineering. 3 p.m.: Business, creative and performing arts, associate in arts, and industrial, construction and transportation systems technologies.
Bennett College: Bennett — which held classes online for the entire 2020-21 academic year — will stage a virtual commencement at 10 a.m. May 15.
Elon University: 2021 undergraduates will get their degrees in three ceremonies May 21 at Schar Center on campus. 9 a.m.: Business. 1 p.m.: Education, communications and Arts & Sciences (humanities). 5 p.m.: Arts & Sciences (engineering, math, natural and social sciences, computer science). Broadway actor and Elon alum Daniel J. Watts will speak. Master’s degrees will be awarded May 18. Class of 2020 celebration will be Sept. 4-5.
Contact John Newsom at (336) 373-7312 and follow @JohnNewsomNR on Twitter.