We will require that everyone wear a face covering when entering and exiting Centennial Bank Stadium. Our ushers will work to keep groups spaced out in lines, but we want to be as safe as possible. Once guests and students are in their seats, they may remove their face covering. We will require everyone to wear a face covering whenever they move around inside the stadium. By the way, my office has partnered with the A-State Alumni Association to provide Red Wolves masks for our graduates on their way into the stadium.
Because of the unique format of your commencement, we will be limiting the ceremonial part of the event. Given that commencement will be held outdoors in August, we are starting the event at 9 a.m., which is earlier than we normally hold it. After a brief welcome and a student speaker, we will begin individually recognizing our graduates. When their names are announced, graduates will cross the commencement stage to receive their diploma cover before returning to their seat. With no processional, and with fewer speakers, we anticipate that the ceremony will conclude no later than 11:30 a.m., which should get us out of the stadium before the heat of the day.
Preparing for commencement in the stadium will take a lot of work by our staff (including placing chairs for graduates on the field and assigning seats to guests). To help with our advance planning, graduates are required to declare their intention to walk and the number of guest tickets they need by Friday, July 24.
My young friends, this has been an unprecedented year with many changes to our lives that are beyond our control. I know that you have borne the additional hardship of finishing your final college year in the midst of a global pandemic. I have heard from many students how important the commencement ceremony is to them (and to their friends/family). I also understand that some students will not feel comfortable attending given all that is going on. Please remember, no one is required to attend commencement. It is a symbolic ritual – you are already A-State graduates even if you do not “walk.” For those who do want to participate, our team has worked hard to safely preserve one our oldest (and best) traditions for you – hearing your name announced as you walk across the commencement stage.
Congratulations and I look forward to seeing you on August 8!