Skip to Top NavigationSkip to ContentSkip to Footer

Commencement Plans Include Virtual Spring, in-Person Fall Ceremonies

President David Eisler
PHOTO CAPTIONS: Here are scenes from the Fall 2019 Ferris State University commencement ceremonies. Above is Ferris President David Eisler. The university has announced its plans for Spring 2020 commencement ceremonies. The COVID-19 pandemic altered original plans.

Ferris State University has canceled its traditional May 2020 commencement ceremonies, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the university has new spring Class of 2020 celebratory plans that include a virtual ceremony this May, a special December event, on the Big Rapids campus, and commencement updates for Kendall College of Art and Design graduates.

The virtual ceremony replaces the planned main campus Spring 2020 commencement, on Friday and Saturday, May 8-9. It will include an invitation for graduates to record and submit a 12-second video, an announcement slide for each graduate that features their name, degree, a photo, and a quote or thank-you message with Ferris logos and colors. The national Smiling Ferris State University graduateanthem, and remarks from the president, academic deans and an Alumni Association representative, will further highlight the virtual ceremony. May 2020 graduates will have an opportunity to download a 30-second clip of their virtual walk across the stage.

“As we face the unprecedented realities of COVID-19, our primary focus has been the safety of our students, the families of our students, our faculty and staff. Keeping that in mind, we discussed how we could provide our graduating seniors an opportunity to celebrate their achievements, in May,” said Jeanine Ward-Roof, vice president for Student Affairs. “The decision to cancel the traditional spring commencement ceremonies was a difficult, but appropriate choice as we comply with state and federal best practices and guidelines. With that in mind, we believed a virtual ceremony would be a great opportunity to celebrate our seniors at a traditional time of the year. We’re going to do our best to make this virtual event as positive for our graduates as possible.”

On Thursday, Dec. 17, Ferris plans to host a special traditional-formatted commencement ceremony to honor the spring Class of 2020. This ceremony, exclusive to Spring 2020 graduates, will be hosted two days before the traditional Fall 2020 ceremonies. The number of Dec. 17 ceremonies will be contingent upon how many graduates elect to participate.

“We’ve received important feedback from our students who expressed an interest in a traditional ceremony, in addition to the May virtual celebration, at a time in 2020 that would work for as many people as possible,” said Kristen Salomonson, dean of Enrollment Services. “Based on that feedback, we thought it was most appropriate to plan for a traditional ceremony exclusively for our Spring 2020 graduates. We want their families and friends to come to campus to celebrate graduation. This important event is the reward for the determination, hard work and sacrifice it took to earn a degree and to become a Ferris alum and Bulldog for life.”

Kendall College of Art and Design has also canceled its May 2020 ceremony and will follow a plan that is like the Big Rapids campus. KCAD will host a virtual ceremony in May 2020 where its students can submit photos of their work that would be included in the ceremony. Further, KCAD plans to hold an exhibition showcasing the work of 2020 graduates in September at Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts (UICA) and The Fed Galleries @ KCAD. The student exhibit would coincide with ArtPrize and the Fall KCAD Open House.

“Our hearts go out to all of our students in this time of difficult change and transition, and especially to our 2020 graduates,” said KCAD Interim President Tara McCrackin. “Everyone at KCAD is committed to helping graduates celebrating this momentous achievement as best as possible under the current circumstances, while we continue to explore opportunities to come together as a community to honor our graduates’ creative work and accomplishments at a later date.”

May 2020 KCAD graduates could choose to participate in the May 2021 ceremony.

For more information, visit the Ferris Commencement website.