Fresno State announced Wednesday that the university’s commencement ceremonies for the Classes of 2020 and 2021 will be held in-person at Bulldog Stadium.
With Fresno County’s COVID-19 metrics improving and an entrance into the red tier of the state’s COVID-19 reopening blueprint appearing likely for next week, the university is planning to hold the in-person ceremonies on May 14, 15 and 16.
“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 Interim University President Saul Jimenez-Sandoval in a statement.
“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.”
The Bulldog Stadium event will consist of six separate ceremonies, each including about 1,400 graduates.
Fresno State is asking all graduates to register in advance, and each student will receive four tickets for their guests.
Graduates will be seated on the field while guests will be assigned to specific locations throughout the stands that will be social distanced. Everyone present will be required to wear a mask.
Despite having an in-person event, the graduation ceremony will be modified. Graduates will not walk across the stage, but they will have their names read over the sound system and have a photograph shown on the jumbotron.
All ceremonies will also be livestreamed online, and students will not be required to pay the typical fees associated with commencement.
Wednesday’s announcement is a change in course for Fresno State, which had previously planned to hold all commencement ceremonies in a virtual format due to the pandemic.
After those original plans were revealed, students mobilized and supported a change.org petition. One day after The Sun wrote about the community’s displeasure with the university’s choice to hold a virtual commencement, Fresno State announced that it would look into options to hold the ceremonies in-person.