Tuesday, March 16, 2021

UIS graduates will have option of a 'stage experience' for commencement

Tasneem Shaik said her mother and father are coming from India for her graduation from the University of Illinois Springfield in May.

That experience will look a little different than past UIS graduations in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Students like Shaik, who is getting her master's degree in computer science, are being given the option of having an in-person “stage experience” days before a May 15 virtual commencement celebration.

Students were informed of the plan last week.

UIS degree candidates who book the “stage experience” will be able to walk across the Sangamon Auditorium stage to be congratulated by UIS Interim Chancellor Karen Whitney and UIS Provost Dennis Papini, who will be wearing full academic regalia.

The stage will be set up like it usually is for graduation, said Joan Sestak, the director of community and governmental relations in the chancellor's office and a co-chair of the commencement committee.

Up to four guests per graduate will be allowed in the audience.

The "stage experience," which will last five to 10 minutes for each student, will be live-streamed on the UIS website for guests to watch, beyond the four who attend in person.

Whitney said the celebrations will allow UIS to continue to follow United in Safety protocols while celebrating graduates’ academic accomplishments. United in Safety is the campus' plan for safety expectations, testing protocols, teaching and learning strategies and efforts to promote and prioritize well-being.

“We all want to return to our large traditional commencement ceremony, but we must wait until it’s safe to do so,” Whitney said.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on March 15, 2021.