FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WPTA21) - College graduates at Purdue University Fort Wayne will be able to celebrate in-person at the Memorial Coliseum after all.
At the start of the month, school officials said they couldn't host an in-person graduation ceremony at the coliseum safely.
Officials made plans for a "graduation parade" through campus with some socially distanced events.
Now the school says commencement for this year's graduates will be held at the Coliseum on June 18 - a month later than previous commencements.
Leaders at Purdue University Fort Wayne worked with officers of its Student Government Association and came up with a plan to return this year’s commencement ceremony to the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum.
The in-person ceremony will include both Purdue Fort Wayne and Indiana University Fort Wayne students from the graduating Class of 2021, as well as those who graduated in 2020 but missed out on a formal commencement ceremony as a result of COVID-19 restrictions.
The event will also be livestreamed.
“The rapid expansion and success of the state’s vaccination program over the past few weeks, combined with the enthusiasm of our Student Government Association to revisit the possibility of moving our commencement ceremony back to Memorial Coliseum, allowed us to pursue options that simply didn’t seem possible or even prudent at the beginning of March,” said Ronald L. Elsenbaumer, chancellor, Purdue Fort Wayne. “We are pleased to be in a position to again offer our graduating students many of the special moments and memories of a more traditional, in-person experience.”
By moving the date to June 18—a month later than Purdue Fort Wayne’s previous commencements—many more members of its campus community will have had the opportunity to be vaccinated.
“It’s a major feat for our students, especially those nearing graduation this spring, to have withstood the changing environment of COVID-19 while still maintaining a successful academic year,” said Derrik West, student body president.
“Given all of the challenges we’ve faced, it’s very important to graduates and their loved ones to be given an opportunity to celebrate their achievements in this way.”
The university expects that masks will be required in Memorial Coliseum except for the moment graduates walk across the stage and are photographed.
Due to social distancing protocols, tickets will likely be required with limits of two to four per participating graduate and there will be no after-party following the event.
Additionally, depending on anticipated numbers, two ceremonies may need to be scheduled for June 18 to accommodate graduates and their guests.
Many details are still being confirmed, and the university will communicate additional information during the coming weeks.
“Purdue Fort Wayne is delighted that this iconic milestone in the lives of our students and their families will more closely resemble what they have envisioned all along,” Elsenbaumer said.
“We are grateful for the support of the Student Government Association, which unanimously passed a resolution in favor of the plan. This is yet another indication of the resilience and determination that our campus community continues to exhibit during what has been a very challenging year.”
All candidates for graduation, including those who received their degrees in 2020, will be receiving information from the University Events and Ceremonies office, including instructions regarding RSVPs, commencement apparel, and diplomas.
Information will also be available on Purdue Fort Wayne’s commencement website.
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