Breaking: Emory & Henry Announces In-Person Commencement


Taylor Simmons

Commencement will be held at Fred Selfe Stadium on Saturday, May 8, at 30% capacity.

Katie Bolling

On Wednesday, Mar. 24 Emory & Henry College announced that it would be holding an in-person commencement ceremony for the graduating classes of 2020 and 2021. The ceremony will take place at Fred Selfe Stadium on Saturday, May 8 at 10 AM. 


All guests will be required to follow certain COVID-19 safety guidelines implemented by the college, including social distancing and wearing a face mask.


Mark Graham, Vice President for Administration at E&H, explained that the decision was made based on new recommendations from Governor Northam regarding graduation events held outdoors.


“In light of the relaxed restrictions, we are able to schedule a ceremony at Fred Selfe Stadium at 30% capacity, which can safely accommodate around 1,500,” he said. “That will allow us to host an estimated 200 graduates and provide a number of tickets for guests and family members of graduates. This will be a ticketed event only.”


Though the ceremony will be in-person, Graham stated that it will be different from previous graduations, in order to comply with the governor’s guidelines.


We are still in the planning stages, but we expect a streamlined ceremony without some of the traditional components, such as walking across the stage or posing for a photo with the president holding a diploma,” he said. “So, while it will be different, we still think it will give graduates an opportunity to gather together with close family to celebrate their achievements during these extraordinary times. We are grateful that the Governor provided us some flexibility to be able to do this.”


The graduating class of 2020 is being invited to this ceremony as well, since theirs was cancelled last year due to COVID-19. If they aren’t able to attend this year either, Graham hopes the college can find some way to celebrate their achievements in the future. 


“In the event they can’t attend, we are also looking at scheduling a reception for the Class of 2020 during Homecoming in the fall, when more alumni are expected to be able to travel and restrictions are loosed further because of increased vaccinations,” he said. 


Gloria Tuttle, a senior at E&H, expressed some concerns about how successful bringing back the 2020 graduates would be, but says she is overall excited that the college is able to hold the ceremony. 


“It’s great that Emory has made that decision, and it’s so important to celebrate the accomplishments of all the seniors. But, I am curious to see how successful it will be for the graduates of both classes,” Tuttle said. “Some of the people who are remote may never come back to Emory, even for graduation. It’s sad but it’s a possibility.”


Although the Governor has announced new restrictions that allow for the event, some students do not feel comfortable about attending the ceremony, including Kassi Armendo, another senior at E&H. 


“It will be a nice occasion for the people who are looking forward to it and for those who missed out on this event, but personally for me I will feel unsafe. This is especially since they are inviting last year’s graduates back to the campus which means more people to be around from different states all over,” Armendo said. “I know these are the early stages in planning, but I hope to see the college taking more action into actually protecting the people currently in the area.


The ceremony will be live streamed online for anyone who can not receive tickets or is not able to attend in-person.


E&H says it will continue to follow the COVID-19 pandemic and adjust plans for the commencement ceremony accordingly. More information and continued updates on the event can be found at: