READY TO COMMENCE: Local colleges, universities prepare for graduation

READY TO COMMENCE: Local colleges, universities prepare for graduation

As the spring semester nears its end, local colleges and higher education institutions are making plans for graduation.

In May, graduates can expect to see a mix of in-person and virtual events from these schools.

Jennifer Englert-Copeland, Ivy Tech Community College – Columbus vice chancellor for student success, said that the number of eligible graduates for May commencement is 1,051 (315 for fall, 627 for spring and 109 for summer).

She said that the college is planning two events for commencement this year. 

There will be a virtual commencement ceremony at 6 p.m. May 20 on the college’s YouTube Channel, and all graduates will receive a link to the ceremony.

Prior to commencement, the college will hold “Grad Fest,” which will be on Saturday, May 15 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in front of Poling Hall.

“This is a drop-in event where students will be able to pick up their diploma covers, graduation gifts, honor cords, have their photo taken in their cap and gown, and celebrate with faculty and staff,” she said. Graduates from the Nursing and Health Science Programs will be honored at the event.

The celebration will also offer a chance for graduates and community members to get a glimpse of Ivy Tech’s new campus building. At Thursday’s virtual groundbreaking ceremony, Chancellor Steven Combs shared that there will be virtual reality and augmented reality headsets at Grad Fest, and individuals will be able to use this technology to experience a virtual walkthrough of the building. He added that the community should check the college’s Facebook page for more updates.

There will be two local food trucks at Grad Fest, and all graduates will receive a voucher for a complimentary meal from Ivy Tech.

Guests and 2020 graduates are welcome to attend the event, as it will be outside with “plenty of space for social distancing,” she said. Masks will be required.

Copeland said that the college’s plans for commencement are largely finalized. She said that while weather could impact Grad Fest, the college will have two large tents and would be able to move forward “barring severe weather.”

Purdue Polytechnic Columbus

Joe Fuehne, the director at Purdue Polytechnic Columbus, said that Purdue Polytechnic plans to have commencement outside at the library plaza on the Columbus Airpark campus at 6 p.m. May 12. The event will be in-person, with no virtual option, and graduates are asked to limit themselves to six guests. Only December 2020, May 2021 and August 2021 graduates will be part of this ceremony.

If graduates wish, they could also possibly attend the commencement ceremony held at Purdue University in West Lafayette.

While organizers will try to keep at least 6 feet of distance between participants, families will be able to be located in pods. Masks will be required.

He also said that while some “minor details” are still being determined, the event is largely “settled and planned.”

“PPC commencement will occur rain or shine,” he said. “Graduates will be provided ponchos for the event. Obviously, a very serious storm containing destructive wind, rain, hail, etc would likely cancel the event. It’s difficult to plan beyond that and I certainly hope no emergencies will occur,” he said.

There are 21 graduates in this year’s class, he said.

“While last year’s cancellation was necessary, it felt incomplete to me,” he said. “I hope this year will bring that closure and completeness to our graduates and their guests, as well as our faculty and staff.”


Indiana University has announced that in-person attendance at all of its May commencement ceremonies will be limited to graduates only. There will be a virtual option for guests and graduates who cannot attend the live events.

IU spokesman Chuck Carney said that IUPUC’s 2021 graduate and undergraduate commencement will take place at 11 a.m. May 13  in IUPUC’s Entrance #3 parking lot, where there will be a fenced area.

“We aim to celebrate the accomplishments of our graduates tastefully and have plans in place for staging the event in a manner that honors our graduates with the importance and dignity commensurate with an Indiana University recognition event,” said Vice Chancellor and Dean Reinhold Hill in a letter to graduates.

Required mitigation testing prior to the event is provided by IUPUC at no cost to students. IU commencement guidelines also state that all of the university’s “public safety protocols,” including masks and social distancing, must be followed during commencement.

Graduates also have the option to attend commencement at IUPUI or attend both ceremonies, said Carney. He said that the school currently has 261 students graduating, which includes 237 undergraduates and 24 master’s degrees (though this is not necessarily the number of students who will participate in commencement).

Friends and family will be able to watch the ceremonies virtually, and a recorded version will be posted for those not able to watch the livestream, he said.

“Only graduates will be permitted to enter the commencement venues,” IU stated in an update. “Tailgating, camping and accompanying graduates to the ceremony site is prohibited. To help ensure everyone’s safety, travel to IU campuses by graduates’ family and friends is strongly discouraged.”

According to IUPUC’s commencement website, the in-person ceremonies are open to all December 2019 graduates, 2020 graduates, and all May and August 2021 graduates. Students must reserve a spot to attend. Hill noted in his letter that the school is limited to no more than 250 participants at the outdoor event. 

Carney said that May 14 is the backup date in case of “inclement weather,” and a virtual celebration would occur if both dates are unworkable. 

IU’s commencement site also states that “IU is continually monitoring the COVID-19 pandemic, and all plans are subject to change based on the public health outlook in each community. The university is committed to keeping its campuses safe, and will communicate directly with graduates if plans change.”

Commencement dates

Ivy Tech Columbus

When: 6 p.m. May 20

How to watch: Go to Ivy Tech Columbus’s YouTube Channel. All graduates will receive a link the virtual ceremony.

How to learn more about the event: Contact Copeland at for more information.

Purdue Polytechnic

When: 6 p.m. May 12

Where: Outside at the library plaza on the airpark campus.

Additional notes: This is an in-person event with no virtual option. Graduates are asked to limit themselves to six guests. Commencement is expected to go on “rain or shine”, except in the instance of a serious or destructive storm. 

Where to learn more: For information about PPC’s commencement, go to For more information about the West Lafayette commencement, go to


When: 11 a.m. May 13 (May 14 is the rain date)

Where: IUPUC Entrance #3 parking lot.

Additional details: Commencement is limited to graduates only; guests can watch the event live or access the recorded version later. 

Where to learn more: Visit for specific details on IUPUC commencement. More information on IU commencement ceremonies is also available at

Published at Mon, 05 Apr 2021 06:11:15 +0000

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