2020 graduates return to celebrate their degrees

President Wintersteen and student on stage at Jack Trice Stadium

President Wendy Wintersteen congratulates students as they walk across the stage at Jack Trice Stadium this spring during graduation celebrations. Photo by Christopher Gannon

AMES, Iowa – Iowa State University graduates who did not have an opportunity to walk across the stage due to the COVID-19 pandemic will return to campus Saturday, Oct. 9, for a special commencement celebration.

Several students requested a traditional commencement ceremony after the pandemic forced 2020 spring and fall commencements into a virtual format. All graduates who completed their degree between May 2020 and August 2021 (approximately 12,000) were invited to the special celebration – 350 graduates have indicated they plan to attend. 

"We're very excited to finally celebrate this group of students. They've been through a lot in the last year and a half," said Interim Assistant Registrar Abbie Suntken. "The university wants them to have this day, a chance to officially recognize and celebrate their accomplishments."

The single ceremony, for recipients of all four types of degrees, will begin at 10 a.m. in Hilton Coliseum. Representing all six colleges, 252 bachelor's degree recipients will be honored along with 45 master's recipients, 52 Ph.D. recipients and one Doctor of Veterinary Medicine.

The ceremony will include a processional, remarks from ISU President Wendy Wintersteen, conferring of degrees, brass and vocal music traditions and celebratory streamers. Alumnus Charles Sukup, chairman of Sukup Manufacturing Co., Sheffield, and a professor of practice in the agricultural and biosystems engineering department, will give the commencement address.

All graduates will walk across the stage as their name and graduation term are announced. Master's and doctoral-level students' academic majors also will be shared, as will the name of the professor hooding Ph.D. and DVM graduates. As with all university commencement ceremonies, the Oct. 9 event will be livestreamed for family and friends not able to attend and archived on the registrar's website with previous graduation events.

There are no guest limits for this ceremony. Ceremony participants and guests are encouraged to wear face masks indoors when around others. Unvaccinated individuals are encouraged to wear a face mask anywhere they are around others and practice physical distancing when possible. Stage and floor chairs will be spaced a bit to create some distance among participants. All graduating students will stand for a photo with President Wintersteen or Senior Vice President and Provost Jonathan Wickert on the stage.