USF recently announced it will hold an in-person ceremony and celebration on April 8, 2022 for graduates of the Class of 2020 and Spring 2021. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, graduates from these classes were prevented from their traditional walk-through at St. Ignatius Church. However, next spring, the recent alum will finally get their opportunity.
Kellie Samson, head of USF media relations, provided further information about this announcement in an email to the Foghorn. The April celebration will include “traditional commencement ceremonies, complete with a platform party of administrators, faculty, and trustees, and students in regalia receiving their diplomas from Fr. Fitzgerald as their names are read,” Samson said.
Carolyn Jatul, a Spring 2021 graduate, said she is glad that there will be an in-person ceremony for her because “it means a lot to be celebrated on campus in the church and recognized and reconnect with professors and fellow classmates.”
The ceremony is still in its late planning stages, but more details will be released by January once graduates who indicate their intention to attend have been confirmed by Dec. 15. The University said, “The number of graduates who indicate that they plan to attend will determine the number of ceremonies and the number of guest tickets available.”
The University clarified that the ceremony will follow city and county public health guidelines, including proof of full vaccination for whoever will be at St. Ignatius Church. This is similar to the protocols for the upcoming winter commencement in December.
Jatul said she expects some form of social distancing and mask-wearing while inside; however, the recent graduate said she is “going for sure and would love it to be as ceremonial and performed similarly to other years with guest speakers and individual departments.”
The University’s Commencement Working group, which includes faculty representatives and staff from all USF schools and programs, recommended the ceremony be held in April. Samson said numerous factors went into the decision to hold the ceremony on April 8, including the church’s availability, planning and organizing, and ultimately providing graduates and their families enough time to make arrangements.
“The promise made to these graduates was that the University would host in-person ceremonies for them when it is safe to do so,” Samson said. “We are delighted to now be able to welcome these alumni back to campus to celebrate their accomplishments and perseverance.”