Hundreds of 2020 graduates return to celebrate their Iowa State degrees

A patient 350 former students who completed their ISU degrees during 2020 yet still wanted a traditional commencement ceremony will seal the deal Oct. 9 at a special commencement celebration. The single ceremony, for recipients of all four types of degrees, will begin at 10 a.m. in Hilton Coliseum.

Representing all six colleges, 252 bachelor's degree recipients -- 17 to 63 per college -- told the registrar's office they'll participate. The class to be honored also includes 45 master's recipients, 52 Ph.D. recipients and one Doctor of Veterinary Medicine. Eligible graduates -- technically anyone who completed their degree between May 2020 and August 2021 -- were asked to RSVP to their email invitation from the registrar's office by Sept. 26. While that number exceeds 12,000, interim assistant registrar for certification and eligibility Abbie Suntken said the graduation team planned for a smaller, more intimate ceremony.

"We're very excited to finally celebrate this group of students. They've been through a lot in the last year and a half," Suntken said. "The university wants them to have this day, a chance to officially recognize and celebrate their accomplishments."

Cyclone pomp

The estimated two-hour (or less) ceremony will include a processional, remarks from President Wendy Wintersteen, conferring of degrees, brass and vocal music traditions, and celebratory streamers. Alumnus Charles Sukup, chairman of Sukup Manufacturing Co., Sheffield, and a professor of practice in the agricultural and biosystems engineering department, will give the commencement address. All graduates will walk across the stage as their name and graduation term are announced. Master's and doctoral-level students' academic majors also will be shared, as will the name of the professor hooding Ph.D. and DVM graduates. Those professors will sit with their graduating doctoral students during the ceremony.

Graduates received a copy of Iowa State's commemorative commencement program and diploma cover the term they completed their degree. Guests and graduates will receive a simple order of events program when they arrive at Hilton.

As with all university commencement ceremonies, the Oct. 9 event will be livestreamed for family and friends not able to attend and archived on the registrar's website with previous graduation events.

COVID practices

There are no guest limits for this ceremony. Per state Board of Regents policy, all ceremony participants and guests are encouraged to wear face masks indoors when around others. Unvaccinated individuals are encouraged to wear a face mask anywhere they are around others and practice physical distancing when possible. Stage and floor chairs will be spaced a bit to create some distance among participants. All graduating students will stand for a photo with Wintersteen or senior vice president and provost Jonathan Wickert on the stage, but they won't receive the traditional congratulatory handshake.

Suntken said the university will monitor Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for large indoor events and adjust any ceremony guidelines, if needed.