Commencement 2021: What to expect in second year of ceremonies amidst COVID-19 Pandemic

During a school year that happened virtually for so many students across America, Waynesburg University graduates not only got to spend their last year learning in the classroom amidst the pandemic, but they also get to have an in-person commencement ceremony surrounded by their classmates and family members.

According to the Waynesburg University official website, there will be four ceremonies held throughout the weekend of May 1 and 2. The ceremonies are to take place on Miller Lawn which has a capacity of 500 individuals. This limit includes graduates, staff, and guests. These ceremonies will be honoring over 400 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral students from campus, along with students from Waynesburg University Southpointe. 

With the presence of COVID-19 being a threat as always, Waynesburg’s Commencement Committee stated that they are dedicated to making sure the events are following health and safety guidelines in order to keep all graduates and their families as safe as possible. 

“All state and federal regulations will be followed, as well as the guidance from within the University’s Keep Waynesburg Well health and safety plan,” the committee stated. “All seating, restrooms, and open buildings will be sanitized between each ceremony. Masks and social distancing will be required, among other precautions. We know from experience that these strategies work.”

On Saturday, May 1, students graduating from Graduate and Professional Studies programs will have their ceremony held at 3:00. During this ceremony alumnus Lance Hyde will be speaking to the graduates and their families. 

Also on May 1, the Baccalaureate Ceremony will be held virtually. Chaplin Joshua Sumpter will be speaking during this ceremony. To watch the ceremony online, visit

“The virtual Baccalaureate Ceremony will be livestreamed at 7 p.m.,” Waynesburg’s Commencement Committee stated. “We plan to livestream the ceremony in the GPAC for a limited audience. Graduating students are welcome to gather safely, socially distanced and masked, in the GPAC at 7 p.m. Saturday to watch the live stream. Seating will be limited.”

Sunday, May 2, is when the commencement ceremonies will be held for students graduating with bachelor’s degrees. These ceremonies will be grouped together by department. The graduates will attend their designated ceremony assigned to them through email at one of the following times: 10:00am, 1:00pm, or 4:00pm. At these ceremonies the speaker will be former Waynesburg faculty, Rev. James Tinnemeyer.

This year’s commencement ceremonies will be similar to last year’s during the pandemic. Just like the 2020 ceremonies, only students who have RSVP’d are able to participate in-person. This year though, health restrictions are lightening up, therefore larger gatherings are now allowed. Instead of each graduate receiving three tickets each for guests like they did in 2020, each student can have four guests present at the ceremony. All guests must complete the Campus Access Screening Form 24 hours before their visit in order to attend. This form can be found at

Waynesburg’s Commencement Committee expresses that they have been viewing the ever-changing health and safety guidelines while keeping a close eye on the University’s “Keep Waynesburg Well” plan to give graduates the best ceremony possible under the current circumstances. 

“It’s been our priority to host safe and in-person commencement ceremonies for the Class of 2021,” the committee stated. “We have remained flexible, researched, carefully considered, and developed this plan, striking a balance between the number of graduates who plan to attend and the ability to allow some guests as well. Last year’s ceremonies went smoothly, and we received a lot of positive feedback on the smaller ceremonies. We anticipate and hope that this year’s ceremonies will be an enjoyable and memorable experience for our graduating students and their guests as well.”

This article along with many others are included in the 2021 Commencement Issue of The Yellow Jacket. The full print layout version can be viewed here.