The University of Arkansas – Fort Smith will resume in-person commencement ceremonies this May at the conclusion of the spring 2021 semester. Ceremonies will be conducted over four days to honor graduates from the current semester as well as those from spring, summer, and fall of 2020 who were unable to participate in a traditional ceremony.
“One of the many disappointments of 2020 was our inability to honor graduates at an in-person commencement ceremony,” said Dr. Terisa Riley, chancellor of UAFS. “I promised our 2020 graduates that when it was safe to do so, we would welcome them back to campus to walk across the stage at the Gayle Kaundart arena at the Stubblefield Center and celebrate their accomplishments with us. We are so grateful that day has finally arrived.”
Ceremonies to honor 2020 graduates are planned for 10 a.m., 2 p.m., and 6 p.m. Saturday, May 1, though final times and the number of ceremonies will be determined by the number of graduates who register to attend. Additional ceremonies may be added for Friday, April 30, and Sunday, May 2, if necessary.
2020 graduates must register to attend by completing the online 2020 Graduate Commencement Registration form by April 1, 2021.
Each of the university’s five colleges will also hold its own ceremony for spring and summer 2021 graduates.
- Friday, May 7, College of Health Science graduates will cross the stage at 7 p.m.
- Saturday, May 8,
- College of Applied Science and Technology graduates will walk at 10 a.m.,
- College of Business graduates at 2 p.m., and
- College of Science Technology, Engineering and Mathematics graduates at 6 p.m.
- Sunday, May 9, the College of Communication, Languages, Arts and Social Sciences, the university’s largest college, will hold two ceremonies at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m.
Caps and gown can be purchased online through the UAFS Bookstore and Herff Jones.
All commencement ceremonies will follow protocols set forth by the Arkansas Department of Health. Strict guidelines will be enforced to ensure the safety and well-being of all participants.
“I am immensely proud of the efforts put forward by faculty and staff across the institution who have worked to plan an event that is safe and in compliance with guidance from the Arkansas Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control,” Dr. Riley said. “This is a tremendous effort on the part of the university, but we know that graduation days are among the very best days of the year for our entire campus. We have missed these milestone celebrations and are thrilled to show our graduates from 2020 and 2021 how valued they are and how impressed we are with their resiliency.”
In light of the guidelines and restrictions, the ceremonies will look very different this year. All attendees – students, staff, and guests – will be required to wear face masks and maintain social distance. Temperatures will be taken for all participants and guests upon entry. Each ceremony will be no more than one hour long, and all will be live-streamed on the UAFS YouTube channel. The commencement program booklet will be available to view in a digital format rather than in a printed version.
Each ceremony will be limited to 140 graduates, who will check in 30 minutes before the ceremony’s start time and proceed to their seat on the arena floor, foregoing the traditional processional. Each graduate will be issued a maximum of four guest tickets, which must be presented to enter the Stubblefield Center. Guest seating will be grouped in four-seat sections, with each group six-feet from others. Children under the age of 2 will be allowed without a ticket if they are not using their own seats.
Anyone who has a positive COVID-19 test at the time of the ceremony, is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, or has been identified as a close contact of an individual who has tested positive for COVID-19 should not attend.
Participating graduates of the class of 2021 are also required to register no later than April 1. 2021 graduates will register according to their college: