OSU to host in-person graduation Commencement in June for first time in two years


Grant Hurd, Photographer

Matthew Miller, a senior fisheries and wildlife science major at Oregon State University, sits in front of Weatherford Hall on March 10. OSU seniors will be able to attend commencement ceremony on June 12 at Reser Stadium on the Corvallis, Ore. campus or at the Oval Green on the Bend, Ore. campus.

Kimberly Clairmont, News Contributor

In June, Oregon State University’s campuses will host their Commencement ceremonies in person for the first time in more than two years.

OSU’s Corvallis, Ore. campus will hold its 153rd Commencement on June 11 in Reser Stadium, and OSU-Cascades will hold its 21st Commencement on June 12 in Bend, Ore.

Becky Johnson, interim president at OSU, and Edward Feser, provost and executive vice president, sent out an announcement on March 3 to all students to outline official plans for Commencement and invite graduates’ families, friends and OSU community members.

According to Johnson and Feser, attendees will not be required to mask, demonstrate proof of vaccination status or display a negative COVID-19 test since both ceremonies will take place outside.

The Corvallis campus ceremony will be held at Reser Stadium despite current construction happening at the site.

It’s quite something to participate in the processional through campus, and very moving to see the excitement of our graduates and the pride of their families and friends,” said Alix Gitelman, OSU’s vice provost for Academic Affairs and senior vice provost.

Gitelman said she has attended the ceremony in the past and encourages graduating students to attend. 

“After two years of public health-related restrictions, we are thrilled to be hosting in-person events to celebrate our graduates,” Gitelman said. 

Kayleen Eng, OSU’s director of Commencement and events and communications specialist, said being a part of Commencement is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. 

“Graduating students share that day with the friends they made during their collegiate lives and receive their actual diploma which is a special tradition at OSU,” Eng said.  

Eng added last year OSU was unable to hold public, celebratory graduate events or a formal Commencement ceremony, but said everyone is happy to return to Reser Stadium to celebrate Beaver grads with families and friends.

“From the student processional organized by college across campus; to the grand entry of all graduates into Reser Stadium; to the sharing of student stories on the stadium big screen; to the awarding of degrees; to receiving actual diplomas and the gatherings outside Reser after Commencement,” Eng said. “It’s all about celebrating students and the lifetime milestone that they are achieving.”

Eng said the purpose of the Commencement is about celebrating student success.

“I know a lot of people, especially people that have gone to graduation ceremonies in the past, are kind of dreading it,” said Matthew Miller, an OSU student on the Corvallis campus who will be graduating in June. “I have definitely been looking forward to it.”

Miller said going to the ceremony will be the last chapter in the book that was his college career, and it will be a big eventful ending.

“It’d be really cool to have it in Reser,” Miller said. “That way all of my family and friends that come, they can get the bigger experience of what a big school this is, especially if they haven’t been for football games and stuff like that.”

Miller said he’d much prefer the ceremony be held in person and without masks. He said he would understand if masks are required, though, given the current state of affairs.

According to Miller, if the Commencement ceremony is changed to be held on Zoom again, he probably wouldn’t go because it’d be too hard to pay attention throughout the duration of an online ceremony.

“Even though it’s going to be a long day, it’s going to be worth it because it really just drives home the point that I finished and I’m done,” Miller said.

On the morning of June 12, graduating OSU-Cascades students will be able to gather with their peers and invited guests to celebrate earning their degrees.  

The recently constructed outdoor Oval Green was intended to be used as a recreational and community space for hosting ceremonies and events like the graduation commencement in the core of campus. 

According to Nathan Moses, associate director of University Events and Community Engagement at OSU-Cascades, COVID-19 regulations prevented former OSU-Cascades graduates from celebrating with their families and friends in-person at the Les Schwab Amphitheater in Bend, where the commencement is traditionally held.

Because this year’s commencement will be an outdoor event, there will be no COVID-19 restrictions, but students are still encouraged to mask, especially if they are part of a high-risk population.

“One of the great things about the amphitheater is it can literally hold thousands and thousands of people, but we don’t have that ability at the Oval Green,” Moses said. “As we get closer to the event, we expect students will need more tickets.” 

Moses said the commencement will still have the personalized feel that it’s always had and they will read every student’s name who crosses the stage because they are a smaller university. 

According to Moses, each graduating student will initially receive six tickets for friends and family members, but during finals week students can pick up more tickets if needed, which will be first-come first-serve. 

“It is the start of new traditions,” Moses said.

According to Moses, the ceremony will begin at 10 a.m. but he urges students and families to arrive early in order to ensure the event runs smoothly and in a timely manner.

“All of our students have worked so hard to get to this point,” Moses said. “Commencement is the celebration of the four or more years they’ve put in to accomplish something not everyone has the chance to do so or drive to do so.” 

Moses said the staff and faculty members pride themselves on having close relationships with their students, so selfishly he wants everyone to be there because it allows for an awesome conclusion to an academic year. 

The university revealed OSU Interim President Becky Johnson will deliver the OSU-Cascades’ commencement address. 

Moses and his fellow team members plan to post updates about the details of the commencement ceremony on the OSU-Cascades website in the coming weeks if students want to know more about parking options, drop-off points and specific expectations.

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