Middle Tennessee State University plans to hold modified, in-person fall commencement ceremonies for 2020 graduates on Saturday, Nov. 21, at Floyd Stadium if weather allows, MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee announced Thursday.
"I believe that our graduation exercises are the most important event on campus. All of us at the university recognize the significance and importance of a formal graduation ceremony to our students and their families," McPhee stated in a campuswide email.
The ceremonies, set for 10 a.m., 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. Nov. 21, will honor December graduates, with invitations also extended to May and August graduates who were recognized with virtual ceremonies because the ongoing pandemic prohibited the traditional Murphy Center ceremonies. A lone inclement weather date is set for Sunday, Nov. 22, at the same times.
McPhee applauded "the continued attention and adherence by faculty, staff and students to our health protocols, especially our policy requiring the wearing of face masks in campus buildings. It is important that we remain vigilant in our efforts to operate the campus safely during this ongoing global pandemic."
"To help assure the safety of all in attendance, we've decided to hold these ceremonies outside, based upon recommendations from federal and state health officials that encourage exterior spaces to be utilized for such public events in order to deter the spread of COVID-19. Masks and social distancing will be required and strictly enforced," McPhee stated.
Unlike traditional ceremonies, the November commencement will not feature guest speakers in an effort to expedite the program.
All May, August, and December 2020 graduates who wish to participate in the Nov. 21 ceremonies must complete and submit a reservation form, which the MTSU Registrar's Office has emailed to all 2020 graduates. The form must be returned to the Registrar's Office no later than Sunday, Oct. 25, in order to participate in a Nov. 21 ceremony.
Graduates wishing to attend will be assigned to one of the three potential ceremonies and given the option of requesting a limited number of guest tickets. Participating graduates will be notified of their assigned ceremony time on Tuesday, Oct. 27, and will receive precise seating assignments, arrival times and other instructions closer to the ceremony date.
"Unlike any previously held commencement on our campus, this one will be a very special ceremony recognizing our student's success, as well as their perseverance and achievements. While we will be celebrating outdoors with a limited program, I am confident this will be a memorable day for each of our graduates and their families," McPhee said. "I look forward to what will certainly be a unique and historic event in our University's history."
A final decision on conducting the ceremonies will be made no later than noon on Friday, Nov. 20, and students will be notified of any changes.
"I must be very clear, however: If conditions do not permit us to successfully hold our ceremonies that weekend, there will not be an opportunity to reschedule this semester. Should that occur, we will honor our 2020 graduates during our Spring 2021 ceremonies," McPhee said.
Students can find more information at the MTSU Graduation webpage.