10 things to know about Emory’s 2021 Commencement

Emory Report | May 5, 2021

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Emory University will celebrate its Class of 2021 with in-person Commencement ceremonies May 14-16 at the Georgia World Congress Center. A ceremony recognizing the Class of 2020 will also be held on May 15.

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Emory University will celebrate its Class of 2021 with modified in-person Commencement ceremonies May 14-16 at the Georgia World Congress Center (GWCC). Emory is also celebrating the Class of 2020 with an in-person ceremony May 15.

As the time draws near, here are 10 things you need to know about the celebrations.

1. One university, 14 Commencements.

The three-day weekend will include 14 Commencements representing all nine of Emory’s undergraduate and graduate schools. Although there will not be one central ceremony for graduates of all schools, each school will have a standalone Emory University Commencement ceremony. The dean of each school will present the candidates and President Gregory L. Fenves will be at each ceremony to confer degrees. A representative from the Board of Trustees will be present to authorize the conferral. Many elements of a traditional Emory Commencement also will be incorporated, such as the bagpipes, wearing of academic regalia, individual recognition of graduates and the singing of the alma mater.

2. Graduates can attend in person or online; anyone can watch online.

Graduates who registered to attend in person are allowed to bring two guests (tickets for guests are required, regardless of the guest’s age). Get the latest information about each ceremony here. Graduates should contact their individual school or program with questions about whether late registrations or guest ticket requests are still being accepted. All ceremonies will be live streamed from the Emory Commencement 2021 website and will be available for viewing afterwards.

3. In-person attendees must follow safety protocols.

All graduates, guests and others at the in-person Commencement ceremonies will be required to wear face coverings. Staggering event times, designating school-specific entrances/exits and mapping one-way traffic patterns for each group of graduates and guests will aid in following physical distancing guidelines. Holding ceremonies at the GWCC also aids physical distancing compliance since only a fraction of each room’s capacity will be used. Hand sanitizing stations will be throughout the areas, high-touch surfaces will have enhanced cleaning, and spaces will be disinfected between ceremonies. Read about the safety precautions Emory has developed for Commencement weekend.

4. Be strategic with arrival times.

Designated parking areas at the GWCC open two hours prior to each ceremony. The building opens one hour in advance of each ceremony for graduates and guests to enter. Refer to each school’s communications for specific details.

5. Services for those needing hearing or mobility assistance will be offered.

Live-captioning will be available for all ceremonies. A passenger drop-off area is located near the entrance of Building C of the GWCC. Emory University does not provide wheelchair rental services, but several vendors can help with rental arrangements. Visit the Emory Commencement FAQ page and click on “Disability Services” for details.

6. Listen to Anthony Fauci, our nation’s foremost expert on fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.

All Commencement ceremonies will include a presentation and video response from Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) at the U.S. National Institutes of Health, receiving the Emory University President’s Medal. Fauci also will provide the keynote address during the Emory College of Arts and Sciences Commencement; his address will be delivered virtually, but in real time. The entire Emory community can watch the livestream on the Commencement website.

7. Commencement is May 14-16, but the week includes other festivities.

Modupe Dayo, an African-themed ceremony honoring graduating Black students, is Friday, May 7, at 6 p.m. Emory’s first annual ceremony honoring Asian Pacific Islander Desi / American graduates is Saturday, May 8, at 4 p.m. CARAS (Celebrating Accomplishments and Recognizing Academic Success), honoring graduating Latinx students, is Saturday, May 8, at 6 p.m. First Generation Low Income Graduation, honoring students who are the first in their families to graduate from college, is Sunday, May 9, at 6 p.m. All are virtual ceremonies that will be streamed on the Emory YouTube channel.

Class Day, a student-organized event for those receiving undergraduate degrees, will be Thursday, May 13. The online ceremony, which begins at 6:30 p.m., will feature U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff as the keynote speaker. The Class of 2021 Multifaith Baccalaureate Ceremony will be Friday, May 14, at 4:30 p.m. The online program will celebrate the academic and personal journeys of the graduating senior class and send the class into the world with music, prayers, inspiring reflections and blessings. The online Oxford College Baccalaureate Ceremony will be Friday, May 14, at 3:30 p.m.

8. Share your memories with the graduating class.

Congratulate Class of 2021 graduates or share memories of your time together by leaving a message on the virtual Memory Wall. Messages and photos can be uploaded for specific students or schools; you can also search memories that others have shared by student or school.

9. The Class of 2020 will be honored.

A ceremony on Saturday afternoon will recognize the Class of 2020 graduates whose Commencement was completely virtual last year due to COVID-19. Having an in-person ceremony allows the class an opportunity to gather once more and receive congratulations in person from President Fenves and their dean.

10. Share the celebration with #Emory2021.

Use the #Emory2021 hashtag to continue the Commencement celebration on social media posts. You might even see your post shared on the university’s social media accounts.