2021 Graduation to be Held in Person, with Class of 2020 Invited to Attend


U student at graduation. (Courtesy of Courtney McBeth)

By Kayleigh Silverstein, Special Projects Managing Editor, News Writer


The class of 2020 at the University of Utah missed out on their in-person graduation due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In May 2021, however, these students have the opportunity to join the 2021 graduating class in celebration of their accomplishments.

“Finishing an undergraduate or graduate degree under these circumstances is an incredible academic accomplishment,” said Dan Reed, senior vice president for academic affairs, in a written response. “The classes of 2020 and 2021 should be extremely proud of their dedication and the hard work they have done to complete their education.”

The in-person events will take place between May 5 and 7 at either Rice-Eccles Stadium or the Red Butte Garden Amphitheatre. Family and friends can view the general commencement event via live stream on Thursday, May 6 at 6:30 p.m. MST.

They are still ensuring COVID-19 guidelines are followed, however. The stadium can safely seat larger groups up to 1,500 while smaller groups of around 350 to 400 individuals will fit in the amphitheater, all while remaining physically distanced.

“All attendees will be required to wear masks throughout the event, including when walking across stages,” said Aaron White, the director of stadium and arena events, in a written response. “Masks may only be removed by key individuals when actively speaking at the microphone or by graduates for a brief moment when having their official graduation photo taken.”

Additionally, hand sanitizer will be available throughout the venues and all frequently touched surfaces will be disinfected.

As of March 30, 2021 each graduate will be allowed to bring two guests. This changed the previous announcement stating guests could only experience the event through a computer screen. 

“The decision to allow guests has been driven by the same principles that have guided university administrators since the COVID-19 pandemic began: protecting the health and safety of the campus community and preserving essential experiential learning for first-year students,” the new statement reads. 

Guests must respect all physical distancing guidelines and wear a mask at all times.

As for right now, graduating students can expect an email in the coming weeks to apply for a ticket to their college’s ceremony. 

Participation in the in-person ceremonies is voluntary, and if not enough people get a ticket to attend the event, volunteers from administration and faculty will be asked to stand in to allow the students to be properly recognized for their accomplishments. 

While each college has its own procedure on graduation day, operational and safety guidelines for both the stadium and the Red Butte Garden venues have been developed. All colleges will follow the same rules for ticketing, entrance and exit, seating, reading of names and procession.

For the most up-to-date information regarding college-specific ceremonies, students should check online.

“Our students have shown remarkable determination, resilience, and collaboration in managing the psychological and physical stressors of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Reed said. “We admire how each of our graduates has persevered over the past two years and are truly excited to celebrate with them in May.”


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