Georgia State will host in-person graduation in December

After hosting a virtual commencement, Georgia State will now honor their 2020 graduates with a face-to-face ceremony. Photo from Georgia State News Hub

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the university canceled all formal events, including graduation ceremonies for 2020 graduates. 

On Dec.16 and 17, Georgia State will hold its 105th in-person commencement ceremony to celebrate all 2020 graduates. 

Chandler Brown, coordinator of Administrative Communications at Georgia State, “We wish we were celebrating together in person today, Chandler Brown, coordinator of Administrative Communications at Georgia State said. [We] look forward to seeing everyone at our in-person ceremonies as soon as it is safe to do so,”

After Georgia State saw the impact COVID-19 was having on in-person programs, their Division of Public Relations and Marketing began planning and created the virtual celebration event. 

“We began planning ways to honor the class in March when we knew that an in-person ceremony would be postponed. Our plans came together in the last couple of weeks,” Andrea Jones, associate vice president of Public Relations and Marketing at Georgia State, said. 

As Brown stated, Georgia State wanted to see an in-person commencement happen soon. Now that the university believes it is so, graduates will receive notifications to RSVP for the ceremony. 

“We encourage graduates who feel safe and comfortable to attend in December [and] to submit their RSVP before the Nov. 15 deadline,” Jessica Weintraub, director of university events management, said.

Georgia State understands the importance of commencement for its students, and they want to make sure that graduates can celebrate safely. 

 “We wanted to celebrate the achievements of our graduates and believe we can now do that safely by following the same protocols we use for those working and learning across our campuses,” Weintraub said. 

The ceremony will enforce the CDC guidelines that follow:

  • Graduates must wear masks at all times.
  • We will have hand-sanitizing stations.
  • Seats will be zip-tied closed to allow people to be seated with their pods and enforce social distancing.
  • We will indicate which gates are for entry and which are for exit to prevent crowding.
  • We are not providing shuttles this semester to reduce groupings.

“Graduates who are not comfortable participating in this December’s ceremonies will be invited to participate in the spring 2021 ceremonies,” Weintraub said. 

Students can also stream the ceremony live online at the date and time posted for each event.

Graduates are not required to purchase regalia for the in-person ceremonies this semester, but if you wish to do so, the deadline to place your regalia order is Nov. 13.

Out of an abundance of caution, graduates will be limited to four tickets. 

“Trading tickets or giving away tickets is not permitted. This is to ensure that groups gathering at the stadium are no larger than [five] people,” Georgia State’s commencement website said

Graduates can only sit in the stands with their guests and rise when the speaker announces their name and their picture appears on the screen. 

“We encourage graduates to bring guests who will arrive and leave together,” Weintraub said. 

Weintraub says this will be a strictly graduates-only ceremony, a faculty processional was also cancelled by Georgia State and no staff will receive tickets to attend. 

“Spring deadlines for graduation applications are not until Dec. 6, and those numbers are continuing to grow to date,” she said. 

Dec. 16 order of service will be as follows:

9 a.m. Graduate Degree Candidates

  • Master’s
  • Specialist
  • Professional 
  • Ph.D.

1 p.m. Bachelor’s Degree Candidates

  • College of Arts and Sciences (last names A-L)
  • College of the Arts
  • School of Public Health

5 p.m. Bachelor’s Degree Candidates

  • College of Arts and Sciences (last names M-Z)
  • College of Education and Human Development
  • Byrdine F. Lewis College of Nursing and Health Professions

Dec. 17 order service will be as follows:

9 a.m. Bachelor’s Degree Candidates

  • J. Mack Robinson College of Business
  • Andrew Young School of Policy Studies

1 p.m. Associate Degree Candidates

  • Perimeter College

“Earning a college degree is among the most meaningful and significant achievements of your lifetime,” President Mark Becker said at Georgia State’s first-ever virtual commencement. 

Many students expressed frustration after the university announced that it was canceling in-person commencement. Georgia State wants to make sure students feel honored for their accomplishments by host graduation.