O’rena to host first in-person graduation ceremony of COVID-19 era

Students look forward to the emotionally bittersweet graduation ceremony that marks the end of their time at OU. For their part, the university always seems ecstatic and prepared in hosting the ceremony event for their graduates.

Last year, due to COVID-19, OU performed a drive through ceremony in place of the in-person ceremony that is usually held at the end of each semester. But this year the university decided to host the in-person ceremonies at the O’rena. 

“This year, we’re going back to our traditional ceremonies as if there was no COVID, with the exception of everyone being masked,” Theawiana Bracewell, an event manager for OU Academic Affairs said. “We’re going back to our roots.”

Commencement takes place Friday, Dec. 17 at 9 a.m. for the College of Arts and Sciences and for the Bachelor’s of Integrated Studies. Again at 1 p.m. for all the professional schools, which includes the School of Business Administration, School of Education and Human Services, School of Engineering and Computer Science, School of Health Science, Health Sciences in School of Nursing. Then there will be a separate ceremony on Dec. 18 at 9 a.m. for all the university’s masters and doctoral students.

At the ceremony there will be the traditional agenda of President Pescovitz addressing the students. There will also be one honorary degree recipient at the Dec. 17 ceremony who will be given the option to speak if they want to. All the Deans will be present at the events and address the students at the ceremony. There will also be an undergraduate student award winner that will be offered the opportunity to speak as well. And lastly, there will be a student award winner that will be speaking at the College of Arts and Sciences ceremony. 

Students are offered three guests for the ceremony and all guests and students will be required to wear masks during the ceremony. 

“Getting [things] back to a normal basis before COVID,” Bracewell said. “So we’re hoping and we’re anticipating that everyone understands that we’re trying to make the university seem [like before the pandemic].”

There will also be a livestream link that will be provided on the day of on the Oakland University website. This allows for anyone that can’t attend or does not feel comfortable attending to still be able to see the ceremony.

Graduating students are excited to be offered an in-person ceremony, and look forward to having the feeling of normalcy during their last moments of college.

“I was really excited when I found out commencement would be held in person this semester,” Madeline Mason, Senior, Public Relations and Strategic Communication said. “I’m thankful OU is taking the proper precautions to make it a possibility for us. I can’t wait to walk across the stage and feel the magnitude of my accomplishments, it’s such a special moment for graduates.”

As of now, OU is planning to have an in-person spring commencement while carefully monitoring the COVID-19 cases in Michigan.