Wittenberg University is excited to conduct the 171st Commencement exercises in-person to celebrate the class of 2021 on Saturday, May 15.
Approximately 373 degree candidates are expected to walk in a modified in-person Commencement featuring two separate ceremonies to honor the Class of 2021. Consistent with health and safety guidance from the Ohio Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the event will take place at Wittenberg Stadium atop Edwards-Maurer Field, part of the Health, Wellness & Athletics (HWA) Complex, instead of at the traditional venue of Commencement Hollow to allow for effective social distancing. A ceremony celebrating Wittenberg’s class of 2020 will be held on May 16.
Prior to Commencement, the Class of 2021 will hold its Baccalaureate service on Friday, May 14, in historic Weaver Chapel. Pre-service music will begin at 4 p.m., with the ceremony starting at 4:15 p.m. While attendance will be significantly restricted, family members of participants will be allowed to attend, and additional seats will also be available. Tickets can be obtained here.
For Commencement, graduates in the Class of 2021 will be divided by majors with group one consisting of sciences and education majors participating from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., and group two featuring humanities and arts majors from 3 to 4:30 p.m. Following each ceremony, graduates will recess to Commencement Hollow for diploma retrieval and grab-and-go-style snacks. Wittenberg is permitted to fill each outdoor venue to 30 percent of its capacity with each graduate being allotted two tickets for guests. All guests are required to wear masks and stay six feet apart at all times. Hand sanitizing stations will also be available.
Group one will consist of the following masters and majors: MA coaching, MA education, MS analytics, biology, environmental science, biochemistry/molecular biology, chemistry, physics, nursing, exercise science, sport management, math, computer science, education/educational studies, and psychology. All guests must be seated by 10:30 a.m. with gates opening one hour prior to the event at 9:30 a.m.
Group two will include all majors in art, communication/digital media, accounting, entrepreneurship, finance, management, marketing, dance, East Asian studies, economics, English, French, German, Spanish, history, international studies, music, organizational leadership, philosophy, political science, religion, sociology, self-designed, and theatre. All guests must be seated by 2:30 p.m. with gates opening at 1:45 p.m. for this second ceremony.
The class of 2020 in-person ceremony will take place at 1 p.m. Sunday, May 16, in the same location as the class of 2021. The stadium gates will open at 11:30 a.m., and all guests must be seated by 12:30 p.m.
The COVID-19 pandemic moved the class of 2020’s ceremony to an entirely virtual experience in May 2020, so the opportunity to be honored in person is a welcomed one.
The rain location for all ceremonies will be inside the HWA’s Pam Evans Smith Arena. Others wishing to view the ceremony can watch online here.
Speaking at all three ceremonies will be President Michael L. Frandsen; Janet E. Jackson, class of 1975, member of the Wittenberg Board of Directors; and Jenn Ramage, class of 2000, president of the Wittenberg University Alumni Association. Class president Charlotte E. Hurst will also speak at the 2021 ceremonies, while Vanessa Orduna Zarazua will speak at the 2020 ceremony.
GradImages, a leader in commencement photography, will take the treasured stomping of the Seal photos of each graduate this year as no students, family members, or guests are allowed to congregate at the Seal in keeping with health and safety protocols. The company will also handle capturing graduates with their diplomas for purchase.
The Baccalaureate service, planned and run by members of the senior class and Matevia Endowed University Pastor Rachel Sandum Tune, is an academic and religious tradition that celebrates the upcoming Commencement festivities. The service, which will last approximately an hour and be livestreamed on Wittenberg’s Facebook page, offers seniors an opportunity to reflect on their time at the University and to look to faith as they begin the next step in their journey.
Members of the Class of 2021 will reflect on the importance of community and trust in times of change, and challenge one another to live out their callings beyond Wittenberg. Senior class vice president Kristen Stein and Wittenberg President Michael Frandsen will offer greetings. Other seniors offering reflections include Sierra Dann, Isabelle McClure, Zori Parker, and Sarah Hartman. Tune will deliver the homily.
Seniors will also take part in the service in a variety of ways. Senior musicians include Nathan Baulch, Miranda Zielinski, Maia Grandy, Isabelle McClure, and Emma Siebert. Scripture will be read by Bryce Miller, Jillian Poska, Ellen Dallaire, Ang Gialenella, Stephanie Angle, and Olivia Riddle. Prayers will be given by Abby Glass and Rachel Massey. The offering this year will be introduced by Jack Hollinshead and Destiny Paulen and will be designated for medical aid, locally through the Rocking Horse Community Health Center and globally to Doctors Without Borders.
The annual tradition also includes the lighting of a memorial candle in honor of loved ones who cannot be at Commencement, or who have passed away. This year, a special remembrance will be offered by Joshua Thompson in honor of classmate Cosmas “Cossy” Catanzaro, who died in December 2018. He would have graduated with the class.
For Commencement exercises, the Myers Hall bell will toll multiple times Saturday morning to notify the campus that the ceremony will be held in its intended outdoor location at the scheduled time of 11 a.m. If the bell does not ring, that will be a signal that the ceremony will take place inside at Pam Evans Smith Arena.
Special parking and seating have been arranged for physically disabled guests in the area across from the HWA Complex on Bill Edwards Drive and at Synod Hall. For Commencement exercises held outdoors, physically disabled guests may enter campus beginning at 9 a.m. The lot will be monitored by University personnel throughout the day. To access the handicapped parking area, please enter campus from Plum Street. Bill Edwards Drive will be closed between Woodlawn and E. Campus Drive.
Wittenberg will be offering a shuttle service throughout the day to accommodate visitors parked in other lots. Other parking locations include New Residence Hall, Tower Hall, Firestine Hall, Synod Hall, Hollenbeck Hall, the Benham-Pence Student Center, and Krieg Hall. Click here for directions, campus maps, and detailed parking information.
Wearing face coverings, staggering event times, social distancing, and designating school-specific entrances/exits for each group of graduates and guests aids in COVID-19 safety protocols. All graduates and guests should be familiar with the COVID-19 safety guidelines.
For those with special needs/requests regarding ceremony logistics, please contact Commencement Committee Chair Brandee Bates Kern at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A live online stream of the event will be available at www.wittenberg.edu/live.
For additional Commencement information, visit www.wittenberg.edu/commencement
Be sure to follow a favorite Commencement tradition, #StompTheSeal, on social media, as well.