Kentucky colleges plan for in-person graduation ceremonies

By Nicole Childress, Building Kentucky

The COVID-19 pandemic caused most universities to cancel their 2020 graduation ceremonies or move them completely online. Over a year later, with vaccinations rolling out and the state restrictions loosening, universities are looking forward to celebrating 2021 graduates.

Most schools around the state are hosting in-person graduation events that maintain social distancing, masks, and other safety guidance. Because capacity will likely still be limited, many schools are choosing to live stream their ceremonies too for students and guests who are unable or choose not to attend in-person convocations.

Here’s how some Kentucky schools are approaching college graduations.

University Of Louisville: May 7 – 9, 2021

U of L will host in-person graduation celebrations that will celebrate the classes of 2020 and 2021. Events will be held outdoors at Cardinal Stadium and will also be live-streamed.

Tickets are required to maintain state-approved capacity. To limit touchpoints and promote social distancing, there will not be a processional. However, students will receive individual recognition and get to cross the stage while remaining physically distant.

“The thrill of walking across the stage at commencement is back. We are working hard to provide a safe, meaningful commencement experience for those graduating this spring as well as all those 2020 graduates whose in-person commencement ceremonies were canceled due to COVID-19,” said U of L President Neeli Bendapudi.

Full event schedule:

University Of Kentucky: May 14 – 16

UK will host in-person graduation at Rupp Arena. Each graduate will be permitted four guests to attend the ceremony. UK is also creating a commencement website. This allows students to create personalized graduation slide and provides live streaming for guests who cannot attend.

Full event schedule:

Western Kentucky University: May 1

WKU will celebrate its Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 graduates in person and outside at Houchens Industries – L.T. Smith Stadium on May 1. WKU will have additional celebrations on May 8 for Spring and Summer 2020 graduates.

Graduates will be able to participate in the Topper Walk tradition, where students get to walk campus a final time before the conferring of their degrees.

Graduates will be individually recognized and will have the option to walk across the stage.

Full event schedule:

Eastern Kentucky University: May 7 – 8

EKU will also be able to celebrate in person at Roy Kidd Stadium. Graduates are allotted two guests and masks will be enforced, but according to EKU’s website, the school may increase guest numbers if restrictions are lifted by Governor Beshear by the time of graduation. For friends and family who cannot attend, the event will be live-streamed.

Full schedule:

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