The University of St. Thomas plans to hold a traditional commencement ceremony for the graduating spring class of 2021 on May 8, according to UST Director of Special Events and Projects Muffy Buvens. The decision, Buvens told the Independent, was made with the input of medical advisors and UST President Richard Ludwick.
“We feel confident enough at this point to say, ‘save the date,’” Buvens said.
However, Buvens, who is the project manager for the commencement committee, said questions such as the choice of venue still can’t be answered.
Buvens said one concern is the possibility of another COVID-19 outbreak come May. The University is looking for an outdoor venue to accommodate this possibility, she said.
Other options include hosting the commencement on campus, similar to the Winter Walk in fall 2020, or using the BBVA Compass Stadium downtown.
“[BBVA] kind of checks all of our boxes; it allows the maximum number of people, outside so lots of ventilation; the safest kind of environment we want,” she said.
The decision will be finalized closer to the commencement date, she said.
In response to Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s recent decision to lift all COVID-19 restrictions, Buvens said she is waiting to see how the next few months go. She said if there isn’t an increase in COVID cases following the governor’s decision, it will be easier to make concrete plans for graduation.
“[By] taking away the mask mandate [now], we’ll have a good chunk of time to see what happens,” she said.
Currently, there are 662 students approved for spring graduation, with an additional 200 students from last year who did not walk at the fall or spring 2020 commencements and who are invited to attend the 2021 commencement.
At the moment, graduates will be allowed six guests, but that number may change depending on another COVID outbreak, she said.
Depending on the number of students who register for commencement, Buvens said the ceremony might have to be spaced out to safely accommodate the graduates.
When asked if social distancing and mask wearing were going to be in place for commencement, she replied “I hope so.”
“We don’t know what the CDC guidelines are going to be in May,” she said. “But when they are [announced], they will be followed.”
Students expected to graduate in May 2021 can register here from now until midnight, Apr. 1.
Editor’s note: An earlier version of this article said political advisors and a university events departments board was involved in the decision making of commencement. This is not true. In addition, the registration link has been corrected for those who are eligible to register. We apologize for the errors.