In-person Commencement Ceremonies are Being Planned
March 24, 2021
Dear Fresno State Community,
Fresno County’s COVID-19 improved ranking to the state’s red tier category will allow Fresno State to offer smaller-scale, in-person Commencement ceremonies May 14, 15 and 16 in Bulldog Stadium for graduates of the Classes of 2020 and 2021.
“With the expectation that Fresno County will be in a less restrictive red tier soon and the desire expressed by many students for an in-person experience, I prompted the Cabinet to consider alternatives to the previously planned virtual graduation ceremony,” said President Saúl Jiménez-Sandoval.
“We listened to the feedback from our graduating seniors and student leaders and together are designing an in-person Commencement celebration. This will be possible, provided that Fresno County remains in the red tier. We appreciate the advocacy and guidance from Associated Students, Inc. to help plan a memorable experience.”
Current plans call for six (6) separate ceremonies based on the size of the academic schools and colleges. Each ceremony would include approximately 1,400 graduates. Two ceremonies would be held each day, one in the morning and one in the evening.
The University will follow state and local public health guidelines, and should conditions within Fresno County change, it may have to alter these plans.
Per the State guidelines, effective April 1, counties in the red tier are allowed to host outdoor venues with a maximum capacity of 20%. Graduates will need to register in advance, communicating their intent to attend the ceremony of their respective school/college. Each graduate who registers will be issued a maximum of four assigned tickets for their guests.
Graduates will be seated on the football field and all guests will be assigned to a specific seating location (pods) in Bulldog Stadium. These pods will be socially distanced in accordance with the latest CDC and state public health guidelines. The wearing of facial coverings will be required at all times for graduates and attendees.
Graduates will be recognized individually with their name read over the sound system and a photograph shown on the stadium screen, but they will not cross the stage. Graduates who do not participate in the stadium ceremonies can still have their names and photos included if they register in advance.
The ceremonies will be livestreamed so students and families who are unable or choose not to attend an in-person ceremony, and the public, can watch online.
Campus groups that traditionally have graduation celebrations will have virtual ceremonies this year because the University does not have the capacity and resources to accommodate any additional in-person ceremonies.
Given the current circumstances, the University will not require graduates to pay a fee to support the expenses associated with Commencement activities this year. Students will automatically be credited a refund of $35.50 if they have already paid the fee. This decision aligns with the actions taken with the Class of 2020.
More information will be announced as plans are developed. A new Commencement website will have the latest communications and updates.
Saúl Jiménez-Sandoval, Ph.D.