California State University, Northridge officials are planning memorable commencement celebrations next month for the 11,151 graduates of the class of 2019-20 and the 11,538 graduates of the class of 2020-21.
Concerns about the spread of COVID-19 forced the postponement of the class of 2019-20’s commencement celebration until this year.
University officials had informed graduating students late last year that CSUN would host an all-university virtual commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 15, with college-based virtual ceremonies — where each graduate will be recognized by name and with a photo — scheduled to take place May 21-24. In addition, the university will be hosting a series of in-car commencement parades the week of May 25.
“When we first announced university plans for virtual commencement ceremonies back in November, we were in the midst of a COVID-19 surge,” said William Watkins, CSUN’s vice president for student affairs and dean of students. “We now find ourselves in the state of California’s ‘Orange-Moderate-Tier 3’ status. While the guidelines for Tier 3 pose fewer restrictions on the use of outdoor venues, unfortunately, given the size of our graduating classes, these restrictions do not make it possible to use our beloved University Library lawn for an in-person commencement ceremony, even with no guests in attendance.
“The entire university community regrets that the pandemic has made it necessary to alter our normal commencement ceremonies,” Watkins said. “It’s our hope that the current plans affirm our commitment to honor and celebrate our graduates to the fullest extent possible. We are humbled and inspired by their example of resilience and their capacity to excel under any circumstances.”
Full details about CSUN’s commencement activities can be found on the main commencement website, https://www.csun.edu/commencement.
Watkins said university officials were “keenly aware” of the graduates’ desire for an in-person ceremony to commemorate the completion of their degrees.
“In light of the Tier 3 guidelines — and absent access to a large stadium or similar venue in the San Fernando Valley — we had to explore other options that would provide the graduates an engaging, safe and celebratory experience possible,” he said.
Featuring a mix of live and pre-recorded content, the virtual commencement ceremonies will provide the opportunity for individual student recognition, traditional speeches, recognition of outstanding graduate award recipients, conferral of degrees, and an official welcome to the Alumni Association.
The virtual commencement ceremony dates are:
- May 15: All-University Commencement Ceremony – 5 p.m.
- May 21: Mike Curb College of Arts, Media, and Communication – 5 p.m.
- May 22: David Nazarian College of Business and Economics – 9 a.m.
- May 22: Michael D. Eisner College of Education – 1 p.m.
- May 22: College of Engineering and Computer Science – 4 p.m.
- May 23: College of Health and Human Development – 9 a.m.
- May 23: College of Humanities – 1 p.m.
- May 24: College of Science and Mathematics – 9 a.m.
- May 24: College of Social and Behavioral Sciences – 1 p.m.
The in-car commencement parades are scheduled to take place May 25-28. Graduates must register in advance to drive slowly through campus in their cars, decorated or not, and stop briefly for an in-vehicle photo in front of the University Library. During the parades, the graduates will be cheered on by socially distanced university officials and employees. The graduates also will receive a special “grad box,” including a souvenir commencement program, pennant, license plate frame and tassel. Those who choose not to take part in the parades can contact the commencement office to make other arrangements to receive their box.
Recognizing that some graduates may want to participate in a full in-person commencement ceremony, university officials have committed to adding at least one commencement day in 2022 and 2023 for members of the classes of 2019-20 and 2020-21 to participate. The nature of the participation will be subject to any health and safety guidelines and university procedures applicable at that time.