SIU plans for in-person commencement ceremony in May


Brian Mu–noz | @BrianMMunoz

The sunset illuminates Pulliam Hall with warm light Sunday, Nov. 26, 2017, at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale. (Brian Mu–noz | @BrianMMunoz)

SIU Chancellor Austin Lane announced via email on March 9 the university will plan to have an in-person commencement ceremony from May 7-9 to honor 2020 and 2021 graduates. 

“The celebrations will have many of the familiar traditions, some of them modified to comply with COVID-19 health and safety protocols,” Lane’s email said. “For instance, we chose a large outdoor venue, Saluki Stadium, and will hold more ceremonies to allow for social distancing and to keep attendance at a safe level.”

The university will continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation and will consider a virtual format if conditions become unsafe. 


“However, the trends have been moving in the right direction, thanks to the diligence, determination and resilience of our students, faculty and staff,” Lane’s email said. “We should continue to wear masks, practice social distancing, wash hands and follow other health and safety precautions. Doing so will help us stay on track to hold the ceremony most of us want.

Southern Illinois has not held an in-person commencement ceremony since December 2019; Spring 2020 and Fall 2020 ceremonies were held virtually.

According to SIU’s website on commencement and ceremonies, graduates will be permitted to reserve four tickets for guests to attend in person. In addition, all ceremonies will be streamed live on SIU’s Youtube channel for viewing remotely. 

Ceremonies for May 2021 graduates will be held primarily on Saturday, May 8, with the exception of the College of Agricultural Sciences and College of Science holding ceremonies on Friday, May 7. 

Ceremonies for all 2020 graduates will be held on Sunday, May 9, and SIU’s School of Law will graduate all 2020 and 2021 graduates on Friday, May 7. 

Traditionally, ceremonies are held in the Banterra Center, or the SIU Arena. Due to the outdoor arrangements this spring, Lane said the university is preparing for inclement weather situations. 

“If it’s cloudy or rainy, we will proceed with Commencement,” SIU’s website on commencement ceremonies said. “Graduates will be provided clear ponchos to wear over their regalia. Guests should dress appropriately for the weather – warm layers, rain jackets, boots – as necessary. Small umbrellas are permitted in the stands, provided they do not obstruct the view of other guests.”


During a situation of severe weather, the university will consider delaying, rescheduling or moving the ceremony to a virtual format for 2021 graduates. 

Editor Brooke Buerck can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @bbuerck25. 

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