By Shannon Crowley | April 13, 2021
Congratulations to graduating seniors and 2020 graduates: you will now be able to celebrate commencement in person.
In an announcement last week, the university said it has scheduled in-person commencements at Casey Stadium, with an option of a virtual commencement, for all 2021 graduating students, all 2020 graduates, and guests.
The in-person commencement will take place in 20 minute segments for each department, school, or college from May 15 to May 21. Each segment will be a standing and walking experience on the open concourse of the Tom and Mary Casey Stadium for both the graduates and their guests, according to the UAlbany 2021 commencement homepage.
At any given time, there can be up to 200 people on the field due to COVID restrictions. At this point, UAlbany communications specialist Mike Nolan said the university will not know how many graduates will be in each segment until registration for each department opens sometime in the next few weeks.
Each graduate is permitted to have up to four guests, Nolan said..
The location of this fully outdoor ceremony differs from past years where the ceremony would be held in SEFCU arena.
The in-person graduation segment is a walk across the stage ceremony. The virtual ceremony scheduled for May 20 at 7 p.m. will be live streamed on the UAlbany commencement webpage. During the virtual ceremony graduates can hear commencement speeches from university leaders, alumni, and other guests, according to Nolan.
UAlbany graduates from last year's class of 2020 can also schedule to walk across the stage either May 20 or May 21 for an in-person graduation experience.
Graduating seniors can find the specific date and time for the commencement ceremony for their school, college and department on the UAlbany commencement webpage. The Class of 2021 is scheduled to walk from May 15 to May 19.
Class of 2020 graduates can schedule anytime on May 20 or May 21, regardless of what department they are from because all schools and departments will be walking together.
Several 2020 graduating students at UAlbany said they were upset they were not given a chance at a real graduation.
“I think the class of 2020 deserves more than the 20 minute ceremony the administration threw together last minute because of the backlash they received by giving the class of 2021 a five day ceremony,” said UAlbany 2020 Graduating senior Dana Kasbarian.
In response to Kasbarian, Nolan said that “over the last few months, the Office of University Events has worked with campus partners around the clock to develop ideas for an in-person experience that would recognize both the Class of 2020 and 21 graduates for their academic achievements, perseverance and hard work.”
On the days of commencement, there will be signage pointing people to where the ceremonies will be held. Nolan said there will also be creative elements to decorate Casey Stadium in addition to the pre-existing UAlbany branding.
No refreshments will be given out at the in-person ceremony in order to follow health and safety guidelines.
Vaccines and negative COVID tests will not be mandatory for guests, however COVID-19 protocols such as face masks and social distancing will be in place, said Nolan. All students and faculty attending that have been participating in surveillance testing are to continue testing until the end of the semester.
“The University is excited to be able to safely recognize all of our new graduates in person through the Great Dane Graduation Experience,” said Nolan. “We’re doing this – despite the complexity – because our graduates have worked extraordinarily hard and have earned this moment.”