Dear USF community,
Following my recent announcement of our path to a safe return to our campuses, I am delighted to share with you the University of South Florida’s plans for our Spring 2021 Commencement. A few weeks ago, the Board of Governors of the State University System of Florida released its Blueprint for Spring Semester 2021 Commencements allowing us to bring our spring 2021 graduates together for an in-person ceremony. I am pleased to announce that our 123rd Commencement will be held in person this May at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg. Ceremonies are tentatively scheduled for Friday, May 7 – Sunday, May 9, 2021.
In-person commencement is an honored and joyous occasion, and we have worked closely with our experts from USF Health to provide a safe environment for our spring ceremonies.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this Commencement will look different than previous years with the health and safety of you, your guests and our faculty and staff as our top priority.
As One USF, all our graduates—regardless of campus location—will join together for this university-wide commencement. In addition to a different venue, there are some key changes and requirements of which you should be aware.
To maintain safe physical distancing, students will be permitted to bring two guests to the ceremony. Every guest must be pre-registered in advance of the ceremony. Ceremonies will be live streamed for guests who are unable to attend.
Per CDC guidelines, appropriate face coverings must be worn by students and guests at all times. This also applies to individuals who have received a COVID-19 vaccine.
Academic regalia is required for students to participate in Commencement and can be purchased at the USF Bookstore. We are working diligently with our manufacturing partner Oak Hall and Bookstore management partner Follett to ensure a streamlined ordering process for students. An update on when and how to place regalia orders for those who need it will be shared soon.
To mitigate the risk of viral transmission, students will not cross the stage or have their names announced during the ceremony. Doctoral students will not be hooded during the ceremony and will instead wear their hoods throughout the entirety of the event.
To further enhance safety and security and reduce close contact interactions, no bags will be permitted into the stadium. Exemptions will be permitted for medical purposes and childcare.
We recognize you want to experience the celebratory moment of having your official commencement photo taken. As such, graduates will be given the opportunity to have this experience on their campus in the weeks prior to Commencement, which will include the traditional formal portrait and special photos taken at quintessential spots on campus. GradImages, the university’s official commencement photographers, will be on campus during this event to capture this celebration of your academic achievements. We will share more details soon, including dates and times for each campus and how to register.
Importantly, all students who wish to participate in Commencement must register to attend by Monday, April 5. Please click this link to RSVP. Based on the number of RSVPs we receive, USF will determine the number of ceremonies that will be held in order to adhere to COVID-19 protocols. A final schedule will be announced by April 9. I appreciate your flexibility and patience. As a final note, because of the nature of this semester’s Commencement, there will be no day-of registrations or walk-ups allowed—no exceptions. Students who do not register by April 5 will not be permitted to attend Commencement.
We are finalizing details on how and when to obtain guest tickets with Tropicana Field. We will share information soon. All students who register by April 5 will be guaranteed two guest tickets.
Lastly, we remain committed to honoring our graduates from spring 2020, summer 2020 and fall 2020 who were unable to participate in person. While this semester’s Commencement is limited to spring 2021 graduates, we hope to host you and your families at a more traditional commencement later this year, once we are able to reduce COVID-19 restrictions. A make-up date for 2020 Commencement is still being determined, and we will continue to be guided by state and local officials and public health experts on how to best conduct our ceremonies.
Steven C. Currall, Ph.D.
President and Professor