By SUSAN JONES
As commencement draws closer, volunteers are being sought to help at the numerous in-person ceremonies, but there’s still a chance that rising numbers of COVID-19 cases could put those events at risk.
A University spokesman said no deadline has been set to make a final determination on how commencement will proceed.
“We are carefully watching the conditions on our campuses and in our communities and are hopeful that things will improve over the next few weeks. In-person commencement planning continues, but students and families should remain flexible in travel planning,” the spokesman said.
On April 6, an email went out seeking volunteers to work these in-person ceremonies, which start on April 29 and run through May 4 at the Petersen Events Center or PNC Park. The schools of Medicine, Law and Dental Medicine will hold ceremonies later in May. Find the dates of all the graduation ceremonies on the commencement website.
Volunteers will assist in registration, directing the flow of students and families, and will help ensure that all graduates and guests are properly seated. Parking will be free for volunteers and training will be provided. Proper health and safety protocols will be in place, including face coverings, physical distancing and good hand hygiene
Complete this survey to indicate the events and roles that you’re willing to support. Staff should consult with supervisors before volunteering.
Pitt–Greensburg changes plans
In March, Pitt-Greensburg said it would hold a drive-through graduation on May 1 or 2, but since then students have petitioned for an in-person ceremony and the administration as acquiesced.
The Tribune-Review reported that Brandon Reitz, a 22-year-old Pitt–Greensburg senior, launched the petition drive, which got more than 300 signatures. He said he was upset that the small regional campus was balking at holding in-person commencement for 239 graduates at the same time Pitt’s main campus was offering several thousand graduates an opportunity to graduate in-person.
There will be three ceremonies on May 1 at Chambers Hall — 10 a.m. for bachelor of arts candidates and 1 and 4 p.m. for bachelor of science grads.
Students are allowed two guests each, who must check-in at the Chambers Hall main patio entrance at least 10 minutes before their ceremony start time. No tickets will be issued, so guests must arrive with their graduate. Each family “pod” will be escorted to their specific seating group in the gymnasium, with the graduate to sit in the center chair and one guest to sit on each side of the graduate. Face coverings will be required at all times. Find more details here.
The Titusville and Bradford campus each plan to hold outdoor ceremonies with graduates and their families traveling in their vehicles along a designated route on campus then families following along in their vehicles as each graduate walks across the outdoor stage.
The Bradford ceremony is on May 2 and Titusville is on May 1.
Pitt–Johnstown currently has two plans in place for indoor and outdoor ceremonies. The first option includes two outdoor ceremonies on May 1 at Richland High School Football Field. The second option is for three indoor ceremonies on May 1 and 2 at the Pitt-Johnstown Sports Center. The decision on which option will occur will be made by noon April 29 and communicated to all graduates. Find updates on the Commencement 2021 website.
Susan Jones is editor of the University Times. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 724-244-4042.
Have a story idea or news to share? Share it with the University Times.