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Shepherd plans for in-person, socially distanced May 8 commencement events

By Iyee Jagne - For the Chronicle | Mar 19, 2021

Shepherd University President Mary J.C. Hendrix is pictured here, speaking at the university’s last in-person commencement celebration, in 2019. Tabitha Johnston

SHEPHERDSTOWN — This spring, Shepherd University plans to have an in-person graduation ceremony for the first time since the outbreak of the COVID-19 Pandemic. Commencement will be split between two days, May 7 and 8, and will include the class of 2020 graduates who did not get a chance to walk last year.

All guests and participants will be required to wear a mask that covers both the nose and mouth. On May 7 at 6 p.m., commencement for Nursing Convocation, BSN and DNP will be held in the Storer Ballroom.

On May 8, commencement ceremonies will be held at three different locations. Graduates will be assigned a time and location based on what degree they will be receiving. Graduates will be able to register their guests online, with every graduate being allowed up to four guests.

All undergraduate degree candidates only will attend the convocation at 11 a.m. Doors will open for seating at 10:30 a.m. This portion of the ceremony will only be for graduates. Family and other guests will not be permitted to attend. This will take place in the Butcher Center. Graduates will also receive their diploma cover and a special gift from the Alumni Association at the convocation.

From there, they will go to their assigned locations at the time they selected, by using the link provided in an email from the school. Family and friends registered by the graduate will be permitted to attend this portion of the ceremony.

Regalia is required to participate in the convocation and graduate walk. Each graduate will then have a 10-minute graduate walk where the only audience will be the graduate’s guest. There will be several photo opportunities with professional photographers, including a group photo of the graduate and their guest.

From there the now alumni and their guests will also receive a special gift and goodie bag provided by the Shepherd University Alumni Association.

As for the class of 2021 Master’s and Doctoral recipients, they will have a socially distanced seating ceremony observing, due to the smaller number of students receiving master’s and doctoral degrees.

COVID-19 safety protocols will be held. Master’s and Doctoral degree candidates ceremony will take place at 9 a.m. in the Butcher Center auditorium.

Because of the limited number of guests allowed this year (for safety reasons), all events will be live-streamed, so family and friends can view the proceedings.

Shepherd is in talks with local area high schools about using the university’s facilities for their own in-person ceremonies this year.