(Ashland, Ore.) — Raider Stadium will be strangely empty Saturday, when Southern Oregon University’s traditional Commencement Ceremony was planned until the COVID-19 pandemic temporarily ended all mass gatherings in Oregon. But SOU remains in celebration mode this week with a variety of displays and program-level virtual, video and drive-through acknowledgements.
And all 1,000-plus Class of 2020 graduates will be recognized with small, individualized signs placed in the campus lawn – after President Linda Schott and the Rocky Raider mascot congratulate each graduate by posing for a photo with their sign. The lawn sign photos will be posted on the university’s website Saturday as a slideshow tribute to the graduating class.
“College graduation is a remarkable milestone for any student,” President Schott said. “I commend this year’s graduates for their hard work and determination, and for the grace with which they have negotiated the challenges of these past few months. They have prepared themselves well for future success.”
Visible displays to honor this year’s graduates will begin showing up on campus later this week, including a large Class of 2020 banner, signs at various campus locations and a commemorative display on the Churchill arch – traditionally a favorite spot along Siskiyou Boulevard for graduation photos.
At least 31 SOU programs are offering graduation observances specific to their graduates. Most of the program-specific events – which began last week and continue through this weekend – are virtual graduation celebrations. At least two programs are holding in-person but socially distant ceremonies, three created drive-through graduation events, four prepared video celebrations for their graduates and one – the Digital Cinema Program – streamed a live “Student Film Festival and Senior Celebration.”
SOU’s 2020 graduates have been told they should also expect to be invited back to campus for a full Commencement Ceremony at Raider Stadium as soon as an event of that size is allowed and the safety of participants and spectators can be assured.