Commencement returns to in-person format

For the first time in two years, Minnesota State University, Mankato’s commencement ceremony will be held in person. 

The decision was prompted by students who voiced concern over not having an in-person commencement ceremony, as well as the lifting of some restrictions by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Minnesota Department of Health.

“Mostly it’s what we heard from our students and the students that didn’t get to go through a live graduation. There were requests for students and their families to have the opportunity to go live,” MNSU President Edward Inch explained. “Based on those requests, as well as hearing from staff and faculty for whom this is also a big deal, it was pretty clear. As long as we could do it in a healthy way and adhere to MDH and CDC guidelines and we didn’t have any unreasonable risk, we thought we would pursue it.”

Seniors graduating this semester said they are looking forward to the change back to in-person ceremonies, as they want to celebrate their accomplishments the traditional way.

Tyler Haack, a senior majoring in sports management, is one of the many looking forward to this traditional celebration.

“I’m excited for it, it’s kind of how I wanted to do it from the beginning. I’m more excited that it gets to be in person instead of how they [the University] were doing it during COVID,” Haack stated.

Haack will be walking at his designated ceremony and is excited to have his family there to cheer him on and honor all he has achieved during his college career. 

“I’m just happy that we’re all able to make it here, it’s been a long ride,” Haack commented.

To follow the CDC and MHD guidelines, the University has some protocols set in place to keep everyone safe.

“We went through all of those requirements related to social distancing, masking, all of the things we’ve been doing on campus all term. We also looked at the area to make sure we would be able to apply social distancing standards to each family pod. Then we’ve reduced the number of seats available per student just to make sure we keep the density relatively low,” Inch explained.

Students are limited to bringing six guests to the ceremonies, as this will help control the number of people in the crowd and reduce any risk of overcrowding.

Ben Cline, a senior majoring in law enforcement, will be celebrating not only his academic graduation but also his cadet commission.

“Since I’m also commissioning, my family and my wife’s family will be coming down. I’m commissioned to be second lieutenant in a symbolic ceremony that symbolizes my transmission from soldier to officer. This will be held in the Ostrander Auditorium on December 10, and it’s open to the public,” Cline explained.

As far as the in-person ceremonies, Cline has no worries about safety concerns others may have.

“I don’t have any issues with it being in person. I feel just fine and I have no worries regarding COVID. I’m just happy my family will be there.”

Cline stated further that he and his family will celebrate his accomplishments with a lunch following the ceremonies and spend the rest of the day relaxing.

Fall 2021 commencement will be held 9 a.m. Dec. 11 in Bresnan Arena for the Colleges of Arts and Humanities, Business, and Science, Engineering and Technology and again at noon that day for the Colleges of Allied Health and Nursing, Education, and Social and Behavioral Sciences. 

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