The University of Iowa announced on March 1 that it would be adding an “in-person option to celebrate graduation for our students and their families” for its spring 2021 commencement, and on Friday the university released more information about its plans.
The official commencement ceremonies will still be held virtually, but there will be an “in-person, outdoor celebration” for graduates at Kinnick Stadium beginning at 3 p.m. on Sunday, May 16.
“[W]e hope that graduates and their families will take this additional opportunity to celebrate all that they have achieved,” UI said in a statement.
Names and photos of graduates will be displayed on the stadium’s video board before and after the program. Graduates will not walk across a stage but will be asked to stand and be honored with others from their college. A short program will include remarks from UI administrators and student leaders. Graduates are invited to wear a cap and gown for this celebratory event, but it is not required.
Everyone attending the celebration at Kinnick Stadium will have to follow UI’s COVID-19 mitigation requirements, which include wearing face coverings and maintaining six-feet of social distance. Hand-sanitizing stations will be set up at the stadium.
“Complimentary event parking will be available near Kinnick Stadium and at other campus locations on a first-come, first-serve basis,” UI said. “CAMBUS shuttle routes will be provided from downtown and other parking sites as needed.”
More details regarding parking and shuttles will be provided later, but UI has already made one firm decision regarding its parking lots: “No tailgating will be allowed outside the stadium.”
Students who have applied for a degree will receive an email asking them to RSVP if they plan to attend the celebration at Kinnick. RSVPs must be received by May 1, after which the university will email students electronic tickets for the event. People attending the celebration must be wearing a face covering in order to be admitted to the stadium.
UI will be hold 16 virtual commencement ceremonies at the end of the spring semester. Information about those ceremonies can be found online. The deadline for students to sign up to be included in one of the virtual ceremonies is April 22.
Both UI and the University of Northern Iowa had informed students earlier in the year they would be only be holding virtual commencement ceremonies as part of their COVID-19 mitigation strategies, but both announced the addition of in-person celebrations at the beginning of this month. The announcements came less than a week after Rep. Bobby Kaufmann, a Republican from Wilton, introduced a bill that would require all three of Iowa’s public universities to hold in-person commencement ceremonies.
On March 1, UI announced it would be adding an in-person component to its spring 2021 graduation, and that same day, Iowa State University, which had not previously disclosed its graduation plans, issued a statement saying it would hold “modified in-person Spring 2021 Commencement celebrations” at Jack Trice Stadium.
Kaufmann’s bill received a subcommittee hearing in the Iowa House the same day it was introduced, but after all three universities announced in-person components for their spring graduations, no further action was taken on it.