Pacific Announces May Commencement Plans

I continue to be extremely proud of the perseverance and flexibility of Pacific University students through this extraordinary time. As we progress into the spring semester, we are all thinking about what comes next — especially in terms of the traditional gatherings and celebrations that come with the end of an academic year.

We are anxious to celebrate the accomplishments of the Class of 2021 this spring and summer — especially in light of all you have had to endure during your academic journey.

Unfortunately, it is clear that the traditional large-scale, in-person commencement ceremony scheduled for May 15 is not possible in its conventional format. Though the COVID-19 pandemic appears to be on a hopeful trajectory, it is unrealistic to plan to host thousands of people on our campuses by mid-May. Even if restrictions continue to lighten, they are highly unlikely to allow for that size gathering anytime in the immediate future. 

We want to be sensitive to the needs of students and families to plan ahead and avoid costly travel expenses, and we also want to ensure that we are able to coordinate alternative celebrations that are meaningful to this year’s graduating students.

After discussion with student governance groups, other members of the graduating classes, and our program leadership, we look forward to offering hybrid approaches to recognize all of this spring’s graduates:

  • Students and their program faculty will be invited to participate in small, physically distanced, stage-walk photo shoots this spring. This will be a voluntary opportunity for students to don regalia (order now), cross a stage, and pose for a professional portrait. When possible, the photo shoots may be live-streamed for families and friends to share in the experience.
  • Students may instead request a “selfie kit,” including their diploma cover and other gifts, to help them celebrate and take their own commemorative photo marking the occasion. Order regalia early to receive it in time for your selfie.
  • Individual programs may host virtual celebrations with their members, but no other in-person events will be allowed.
  • On May 15, we will debut a pre-recorded virtual commencement ceremony featuring all the fanfare, speeches, and individual graduate recognitions that typically occur as part of a commencement ceremony. All graduating students will be included in this virtual ceremony with a picture from the photo shoot or their own submission. The virtual ceremony will be available to watch on-demand in its entirety or in segments and will mark the conferral of degrees.

Students who are scheduled to graduate in May, please watch for details, including registration for the photo shoots or selfie kit, as well as opportunities to upload photos for the virtual ceremony, late next week.

Students who are scheduled to graduate in August, know that we continue to monitor conditions and consider the possibilities for your commencement. We will announce plans for August commencement celebrations by May 1.

We know that these alternative options are not what any of us would wish. We have all made so many sacrifices over the past year, and our graduating students have already missed so much. Your perseverance, however, is all the more reason to celebrate your accomplishments. All of us at Pacific University are so proud of how you have risen to the challenges in front of you, and we are eager to offer our congratulations.

Warmest Regards,

Lesley M. Hallick

Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021