After a year of disappointment from students who were not able to have a live, in-person commencement in 2020, the University of Montana announced this week that commencement for 2021 will be held May 1 inside Washington Grizzly Stadium.

UM Registrar Maria Mangold provides details.

“We're thrilled to be able to offer this opportunity in person for our graduates and their guests,” said Mangold. “We have put a lot of planning and thought into it and we've practiced our due diligence with all of our social distancing and our COVID mitigation planning. We are going to be using our most awesome space on campus, the Washington Grizzly Stadium.”

Mangold said there will be separate morning and afternoon ceremonies, the first at 9:00 a.m. and the second at 2:00 p.m.

“We've got two ceremonies planned, so there’s one in the morning and one in the afternoon,” she said. “We're spacing them out a little bit farther because of all the prep that needs to go in between the two ceremonies. The graduates will be on the field spaced out, and then we'll have guests enter through an assigned door and then they can sit together in little pods and so they'll be socially distanced in the stadium seats as well.”

There’s a standing tradition for graduates to decorate their mortar boards, but Mangold said due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there may be a new wrinkle this year.

“We are requiring everyone in attendance to be wearing a mask, and we will provide some branded masks for individuals who don't come with their own,” she said. “My hunch, and this is totally anecdotal, but my hunch is that students will be creative with their masks this year as well. We will definitely provide a mask if people arrive without them. But we're thinking that graduates will probably use their creativity to make some fun facial masks.”

Mangold estimated the number of graduates who will be receiving their degrees on May 1.

“There are between 607 100 graduates per ceremony. It's not everyone that was invited, because a lot of people, especially students, who maybe finished last spring have moved on and are unable to come back, but we did invite all of those different classes to participate,” she said. “So we are going to have crossing the stage somewhere in the realm of 1,350 graduates on Saturday, May 1.”

A livestream of UM Commencement will be available here.


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