With health precautions at the forefront, the ceremonies mark the first in-person graduation events held at OU since 2019.
In addition to the Class of 2021, OU will welcome back more than 1,100 members of the Class of 2020 – whose graduations were celebrated virtually due to COVID-19 – to participate in the in-person graduation ceremonies, which begin on Friday, May 14, and extend through the following weekend.
“As we’ve said from the beginning, even in the face of unprecedented sacrifice and adversity, our students have inspired the worldwide OU family through their resiliency, generosity and compassion,” said OU President Joseph Harroz Jr. “We are enthusiastically looking forward to giving them a memorable graduation experience on campus to celebrate their outstanding accomplishments and to honor their remarkable spirit.”
CEREMONIES, HONORARY DEGREES
Each degree-granting college at OU has been assigned a specific ceremony for space accommodations.
Ceremonies for Norman campus colleges will be held at The Gaylord Family – Oklahoma Memorial Stadium, and most graduation ceremonies for Health Sciences Center colleges will be held at the Lloyd Noble Center. OU-Tulsa’s Convocation will be held at the Mabee Center in Tulsa.
Although a university-wide Commencement will not take place this year due to COVID-19 capacity limitations, the university will present honorary degrees to Sister Rosemary Nyirumbe and William G. Paul during the doctoral ceremony on the evening of Friday, May 14.
During May graduation ceremonies, the university expects to confer degrees to more than 10,328 students who completed their coursework during the spring 2021 semester, as well as summer and December 2020 graduates. This year, OU will award approximately 6,510 bachelor’s degrees, 2,642 master’s degrees, 339 doctoral degrees, 604 professional degrees and 233 college-level certificates.
INCLEMENT WEATHER LOCATION
For those ceremonies to be held in the stadium, in the event of inclement weather for the morning ceremonies, the university’s first response will be to delay the ceremony to a time later the same day. In the event of inclement weather for the evening ceremonies, OU’s first response will be to either move the ceremony to earlier in the day or to delay the ceremony to a time later the same day when it can be held in the stadium. If that is not possible, OU will hold a graduate-only ceremony in the Lloyd Noble Center.
All ceremonies – whether held in the stadium or in the Lloyd Noble Center – will be livestreamed at ou.edu/commencement for those who are unable to attend, or who have health concerns and wish not to attend in person.
HEALTH AND SAFETY PROTOCOLS, TICKETS REQUIRED
Under the guidance of University Chief COVID Officer Dr. Dale Bratzler, various safety measures will be incorporated into the ceremonies. Face masks will be required, and the university will provide masks for those who do not bring their own.
To ensure physical distancing and adherence to COVID-19 capacities, tickets are required for all graduates, faculty, staff and guests. OU is implementing as many touchless options as possible into the events, such as digital ticketing and providing a digital graduation program.
Complimentary parking will be available across campus on graduation dates. To help alleviate parking congestion on Saturday, May 15, shuttle service will be provided from the Lloyd Noble Center to the east and west sides of The Gaylord Family – Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Shuttle service will begin two hours prior to the 8 a.m. ceremony and three hours prior to the 6:30 p.m. ceremony. The shuttle will run two hours after the ceremonies have concluded.
To assist with making graduation weekend safe, the following security procedures will be in place.
All guests and graduates will pass through a security screening before entry to the graduation venue, with medical lanes for those who require alternate screening methods.
The clear bag policy also is in effect. The approved clear plastic bag size is a maximum of 12 inches x 6 inches x 12 inches or a one-gallon clear plastic freezer bag. The policy will allow non-transparent clutch purses that are no larger than 4.5 inches by 6.5 inches. Bags that are necessary for medical equipment will be searched at marked medical lanes at each gate. No other bags or purses, including diaper bags, will be permitted. The limit on bags is one per person.
Express lanes will remain in place at each gate for those who do not bring bags to the stadium.
Items that are allowed for graduation ceremonies include:
- Clear plastic bags (1 per person) no larger than 12" x 6" x 12"
- One-gallon clear plastic freezer bags (1 per person)
- Non-transparent clutch purses no larger than 4.5" x 6.5" (1 per person)
- Bags necessary for approved medical equipment
- Approved family care items (diapers, formula, etc.) must be in a clear plastic bag
- Empty, clear plastic water bottles less than 17 oz.
- Seat cushions and chair backs smaller than 16" wide and without frames or armrests
- Still photography cameras
- Video cameras
Prohibited items must be returned to the owner’s car or discarded, and any unlawful items are subject to confiscation.
- Alcohol (in all forms)
- Baby seats
- Baby strollers
- Backpacks, camera bags, diaper bags, fanny packs, purses or binocular cases
- Beach balls, footballs, balls or other sporting equipment
- Coolers, containers or ice chests
- Explosives, firearms or weapons
- Folding chairs or stools
- Food or drink
- Gift-wrapped packages
- Laser pointers
- Noise makers of any type (i.e., air horns, plastic horns, whistles, etc.)
- Personal heaters
- Pets (with the exception of registered service dogs)
- Selfie sticks, bi pods, monopods, etc.
- Umbrellas (except in the event of relocation to Lloyd Noble Center)
Security officers will search all bags before attendees will be permitted to enter. Those with prohibited items will be asked to return items to their car.
Guests also are reminded that all OU facilities are tobacco, electronic cigarette and vaping device-free. The use of all tobacco products including, but not limited to, cigarettes, cigars, pipes, smokeless tobacco, electronic cigarettes and vaping devices is prohibited anywhere on the OU grounds or campus.
About the University of Oklahoma
Founded in 1890, the University of Oklahoma is a public research university located in Norman, Oklahoma. OU serves the educational, cultural, economic and health care needs of the state, region and nation. For more information visit www.ou.edu.