An in-person graduation ceremony will be held for the University of Arizona’s class of 2020 on Friday, Nov. 5, after the COVID-19 pandemic forced last year’s commencement online. The event will start at 4 p.m. and take place in front of the Old Main building — marking it the first time in over 100 years that the ceremony was held at this iconic location.
Nearly 1,000 graduates from fall 2019, winter 2019, spring 2020 and summer 2020 are expected to attend, with about 3,100 guests. The celebration is being held in conjunction with homecoming week, themed “Wildcats Together Again.”
Alison Levine, notable polar explorer and mountaineer, will be the keynote speaker at the graduation. She previously gave remarks at the 2020 virtual commencement. Other speakers at the event include 2019-20 Associated Students of the University of Arizona Student Body President Sydney Hess and 2019-20 Graduate and Professional Student Council President Marie E. Teemant.
Though the class still held a virtual commencement ceremony back in May 2020, Assistant Vice President of Presidential Events & University Ceremonies Heather Lukach said the UA wanted to hold one in person for students to find closure and to “send them off in the right way.”
“We’re trying to restore that treasured rite of commencement and bring them back as one Wildcat family to give them a send-off that they deserve,” Lukach said.
Senior Director of Student and Alumni Engagement Marc Acuña said the partnership of the two events this year made “a lot of sense,” as the class of 2020 gets to celebrate Homecoming for the first time as alumni and their graduation in person.
“When we’re online, we can all share our Wildcat spirit, but when we’re together, ‘Together Again,’ you see that spirit, the red and blue,” Acuña said. “When people say ‘go cats and Bear Down,’ … there’s no other feeling that you get than being on this campus, being on that Mall, celebrating that opportunity.”
The graduation will follow COVID-19 state and university protocols for gatherings, according to Lukach. She said face coverings will also be strongly recommended.
The Homecoming bonfire, along with the king and queen crowning, will follow the commencement ceremony at 7:30 p.m. and conclude with fireworks.
RSVPs for the ceremony are now closed, but those interested in watching the ceremony online can view it at arizona.edu/live. More information about the event can be found at the UA’s commencement website.
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