Fall commencement 2021 to be held in Zorn Arena once again

Commencement is back indoors for the first time since 2019

Lisa Snyder

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Due to COVID-19, UW-Eau Claire commencement ceremonies have been held either virtually or outdoors since fall 2019. However, the 2021 fall commencement will once again be held in Zorn Arena. 

On Dec. 18, 737 students will be graduating. Candidates from the College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Nursing and Health Sciences will receive degrees during a 9 a.m. ceremony, while candidates from the College of Business and College of Education and Human Sciences will receive degrees during a later ceremony at 1 p.m. 

The December 2020 commencement took place as a virtual event for all 2020 graduates. This year’s spring commencement was held as an outdoor diploma ceremony where the speeches were delivered virtually. 

This year’s fall commencement will be back indoors once again with health and safety precautions in place. Corry Mahnke, the Commencement Coordinator, said that the ceremony will look as it did many Decembers past. 

“We will have some health and safety precautions in place,” Mahnke said. “But, the general content, theme, and spirit will remain the same.” 

Mahnke said the university is complying with the mask mandate and posted visitor policy, as well as asking for guests to distance themselves from other groups.

Derek Bates, graduating this fall with a degree in Spanish, will be delivering “Blugold Reflections” during the morning ceremony. Bates said his piece is titled “As We Go Forward” and is a summary of what the class has experienced over the last few years, as well as some thoughts as they go ahead as graduates. 

Bates said after the last four-and-a-half years of college he is excited to graduate and be able to have his family there to celebrate with him. 

“I am really grateful we are able to do it in person and get the chance to wear a cap and gown,” Bates said. 

During both ceremonies, the “Alma Mater” will be led by Avery Burns, graduating this fall with a degree in music education. Burns said the “Alma Mater” always ends the ceremonies since UW-Eau Claire believes music is a strong part of its foundation. 

Burns said she has enjoyed her time at the university and feels ready to explore more opportunities outside of the university. She feels well prepared for her field and is excited to use all that she has learned. 

“I am so thankful my family can come in-person to the ceremony,” Burns said, “and that I feel safe having my grandparents on campus.” 

Burns said it is rewarding to be back on campus after everything that has happened and knowing that she will be able to celebrate in-person with other people. 

Along with the “Alma Mater” and “Blugold Reflections,” there will be a “Charge to the Class” speech at both ceremonies. Dr. Woubeshet Ayenew, UW-Eau Claire alumnus and cardiologist, will deliver the speech. 

There will be a livestream of the ceremony on the UW-Eau Claire website, Facebook page and Youtube account. 

Snyder can be reached at [email protected]