Salisbury University’s fall graduating class will again be offered an in-person “grad walk” in place of a conventional commencement ceremony due to ongoing COVID-19 restrictions.
The grad walk will be held Dec. 18 and is expected to take roughly 15 minutes from check-in to exit for each graduate. “Celebration zones” will also be designated across campus for additional photo opportunities.
Karen Olmstead, SU’s provost and senior vice president of academic affairs, said despite the unprecedented circumstances, she believes the grad walk will be a happy and rewarding event for graduating students.
“It’ll be a lot like last May, where we had it in the stadium … The graduates loved it [and] a lot of families told us in May they liked it a lot more than the conventional [commencement style],” Olmstead said. “I think it will be very personalized and fulfilling to students.”
Provost Project Manager Kimberly Meyer said the early decision was made because of COVID-19 challenges.
“We were the first school in the [University System of Maryland] to make our decision of how we were going to do [commencement],” Meyer said. “We decided early on that it would be most likely canceled if we tried to do a sit-down ceremony.
“We didn’t know what the situation would be in December in terms of having it in a really large venue like the [Wicomico] Civic Center. Even if it was approved to have it in a venue like that, I don’t know if everybody is ready to be in that kind of a setting.”
Graduates’ names will be read as they walk across the commencement stage to receive their diploma covers.
Guests may accompany graduates during their walk to cheer.
“We are going to have two stages, one in Perdue Hall atrium, and one in Academic Commons,” Meyer said. “Students will be grouped probably by their degree program or the school from which they’re graduating.”
Guests are encouraged to take photos following the grad walk at campus celebration zones, which are outlined on SU’s commencement website.
There will also be professional photographers in attendance for pictures. Proof of vaccination will not be required from students or guests, but everyone must wear a mask during the festivities, Meyer said. Graduates may remove their masks for pictures while walking across the stage.
Graduates and guests must check-in and remain together as a group. Social distancing is expected. Meyer said a decision regarding guest limitations will be announced around Thanksgiving.
There will be a livestream on SU’s website of the grad walk ceremony for friends and family unable to attend in-person.
Graduates will be required to wear their regalia to commencement and are advised to monitor their SU email accounts and the university’s commencement website for updated information as details are finalized.
By SOPHIA SMITH
Featured image courtesy of Salisbury University Public Relations Office.