(Ashland, Ore.) — Southern Oregon University will hold this year’s commencement ceremony on a virtual platform to ensure a safe, high-quality experience for its 2021 graduates and an inclusive, flexible venue that is accessible to family members and friends.
SOU President Linda Schott announced the decision on Tuesday, more than a month before the start of spring term. It will be the university’s second consecutive year without an in-person commencement, but will be distinctly different than the 2020 event – which the university pulled together after the COVID-19 pandemic necessitated a move to remote instruction for spring term and beyond.
This year’s June 12 event will include a live-streamed ceremony, Zoom parties and private, dedicated social media engagement. The university will encourage additional virtual or hybrid events by its various academic programs and departments.
“I feel very positive about this decision,” President Schott said. “Committing to this format early in the game allows us to create the best ceremony possible to recognize the achievements of a 2021 class of graduates who have overcome unprecedented obstacles to complete their degrees and prepare for successful lives of purpose.
“We will avoid the uncertainty that would be unavoidable with an in-person ceremony in June, and will be able to provide a lively virtual experience that will enable families and other supporters from around the world to participate.”
SOU will also build on the successes of some program-level celebrations that were held in a variety of remote formats last year, by creating a template for academic programs and departments to use in recognizing their own graduates.
SOU expects that some students and their families may still choose to be in Ashland for the June commencement weekend, and the university will work with the local business community on tourism opportunities.