Q&A: Spring commencements and ceremonies


Graduation Q & A

Emma Andrus Reporter

As the spring 2021 semester comes to a close, celebrations for graduating students are soon to be underway. 

Kent State announced its plans to host optional in-person commencement ceremonies in an email sent March 18. Graduating students also have the ability to participate in a virtual ceremony or to commemorate their achievements during the Karamu Ya Wahitimu/Celebración de los Graduados and Lavender Graduation celebrations. We answered some commonly-asked questions for spring 2021 graduates.

In-person commencement  

Q: What will the in-person commencement look like? 

A: In-person commencements will take place from May 10 to May 21 with one held on each day. The ceremonies are separated by colleges within the university. All ceremonies, excluding the ceremony for graduates of the College of Podiatric Medicine, will take place on the Centennial Court Green.  

Mon., May 10, 1 p.m. – Advanced Degrees (Doctoral, Master and Educational Specialist)

Tues., May 11, 1 p.m. – Nursing; Public Health; Regional Campuses

Wed., May 12, 1 p.m. – Business Administration; Communication and Information

Thurs., May 13, 1 p.m. – Aeronautics and Engineering; Education, Health, and Human Services

Fri., May 14, 1 p.m. – Architecture and Environmental Design; The Arts

Sat., May 15, 11 a.m. – Arts and Sciences

Fri., May 21, 1 p.m. – Podiatric Medicine (at Kent Campus Student Green

The full schedule for the week is also listed at the Kent State Commencement Website

Q: When and where do I register for commencement? If I’m a double major with areas of study that cover multiple colleges and occur on different days, which ceremony do I participate in? 

A: The RSVP for students to participate in the in-person ceremony is found in FlashLine. The deadline to RSVP was April 8; in the event students missed the deadline but would still like to participate, they can email [email protected]. Double majors are able to participate in multiple ceremonies if their majors are a part of separate colleges and if they choose to do so. 

Q: How does the four-ticket-per-graduate system work?

A: Each student can expect to receive a link to download their commencement tickets prior to the ceremony, and tickets will be scanned upon arrival. Extra tickets will not be an option this semester as seating for the ceremonies are in pods. 

Q: What will the ceremony look like? Will there be a speaker at each graduation ceremony? 

A: Ceremony details are not finalized, but COVID-19 safety protocols will be in place with six feet of separation between seating and facial coverings will be required. An official will direct graduates and they will be able to cross the commencement stage as usual. Ceremonies will also include remarks from the president and provost. 

Q: What if I have finals scheduled during my commencement ceremony? 

A: Students with finals that cannot be taken at other times are invited to partake in any commencement ceremony during the week and should contact [email protected].


Virtual commencement ceremony

Q: What will the virtual commencement ceremony look like? 

A: The virtual ceremony will be released Sat., May 15 at 9 a.m. All students will be included in the virtual ceremony and an RSVP through FlashLine is encouraged to assist with phonetic spelling. The ceremony can be viewed at the Kent State Commencement website upon clicking “Watch the Ceremony.” The virtual commencement will be pre-recorded and viewable at any time after it airs.  

Q: If I’m opting to graduate virtually and not participate in an in-person ceremony, will that impact how I receive my cap and gown?

A: No. Caps, gowns and other regalia can be mailed to students just as they would if participating in an in-person ceremony. See “General/Attire” for more information about ordering attire.



Q: Where can I order a cap and gown? What will it cost?

A: Students who have registered and submitted an RSVP for commencement through FlashLine can expect to receive their cap as part of a commencement package (includes: cap, Kent State tassel and alumni pin). They will only need to purchase a gown and a tassel specific to their college/degree through the Kent State Bookstore. Master’s degree students will also need to purchase a hood.  

Q: Where can I order honors cords? What will they cost?

A: There is no cost or application. Cords are mailed to graduates who meet requirements specified by the university

Q: Where can I order stoles? What will they cost? 

A: Stoles aren’t considered required university commencement regalia, but certain student organizations and colleges offer stoles to students (example: College of Business Administration). If students are interested in stoles, they should contact their specific organization or college within the university to determine whether stoles are offered, what they may cost and how to receive them. 

Q: When can I expect to receive my commencement package and honors cords? 

A: Commencement packages will begin mailing to graduating students who have registered for commencement through FlashLine April 19. Honors cords will be mailed to eligible students in mid-April. Orders placed through the Kent State Bookstore are separate from commencement packages and should be placed as soon as possible.


Karamu Ya Wahitimu/Celebración de los Graduados questions 

Q: What will Karamu Ya Wahitimu/Celebración de los Graduados look like this year?

A: It will be a social media celebration that will take place May 6. It will begin at 9 a.m. and continue through the remainder of the day. The Student Multicultural Center encourages participating students to post graduation pictures, include information in the caption of their post such as their name and who they would like to thank and tag @SMCKentState. Throughout the day, the SMC will share congratulatory videos featuring alumni and Vice President of Student Affairs Lamar Hylton. 

Q: How can I participate? What is the deadline to participate?

A: The SMC sent out a form to graduating students to collect social media handles and provide information about stoles. Identifying students (African American, Latinx and Native American students) who did not receive an email from the SMC can reach out to Program Coordinator Shannon Ross. The deadline to participate is April 23 to ensure students can receive their stoles.  

Q: With everything being virtual this year, what is the SMC doing to make the celebration special for graduates?

A: The SMC will have Instagram filters with different Karamu stoles. Students who participate in the social media celebration can be reposted on the SMC social media stories/accounts. 

Q: What else should I know about the celebration this spring?

A: The SMC is unable to mail stoles this year. Students who want to participate should either collect their stole from the SMC in person or coordinate efforts with someone on campus (friend, classmate, etc.) to pick up their stole if unable to do so in person. 


Lavender Graduation 

Q: What will Lavender Graduation look like this year?

A: The LGBTQ+ Center will launch a social media celebration April 26. There will be different social media campaigns every day leading up to April 30, when a slideshow of Lavender Graduation participants will finish out the week.  

Q: With everything being virtual this year, what is the LGBTQ+ Center doing to make the celebration special for graduates?

A: The LGBTQ+ Center will have printable signs congratulating graduates that can be printed off and displayed. There will also be congratulatory messages from members of the university’s administration and an alumni keynote will be spaced out throughout the week.  

Q: How can I participate? What is the deadline to participate?

A: Identifying students interested in participating can register for LavGrad through a Google Form. The deadline to register for students and their information to be included in the culminating slideshow is April 18. Registration also puts students on a running list of alumni to invite back when an in-person celebration becomes a reality. The deadline to submit nominations for Lavender Graduation 2021 awards is April 11, and nominations can be submitted through a different Google Form. Since part of the celebration is also taking place on social media, students do not need to register in order to participate by posting graduation pictures.  

Q: Where can I order stoles? What will they cost and how can I receive them?

A: Stoles are of no cost to students if they are registered before the April 18 deadline. While the pick-up for stoles ended April 8, the LGBTQ+ Center will have a few days in early May that only registered students would be able to pick up their stoles. Students who miss the April 18 deadline but would still like to purchase a LavGrad stole can only do so through the Kent State Bookstore for $24. 

Q: What else should I know about the celebration this spring?

A: The LGBTQ+ Center acknowledges that a social media celebration can present risks to members of the LGBTQ+ community, because of how public social media can be, particularly for students who are not yet “out” or comfortable sharing their identities to an internet audience. They also want freshman, sophomore and junior LGBTQ+ identifying students to feel celebrated despite a virtual setting, and they look forward to the ability to host an in-person celebration when more COVID-19 restrictions are lifted. Students interested in being invited back to participate in an in-person celebration, when possible, are encouraged to sign up for the LGBTQ+ Center listserv.

Sources: Kent State University; Kent State University Bookstore; Kent State, University Events and Protocol; Shannon Ross, program coordinator of the Student Multicultural Center; Ken Ditlevson, director of the LGBTQ+ Center

Emma Andrus covers the university’s administration. Contact her at [email protected].