March 11, 2021, GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Walking across the stage in a cap and gown is a celebration of years of work for Grand Rapids Community College students. The college this year is preserving that tradition by making changes to keep graduates and their families safe during the pandemic.
GRCC plans indoor, in-person ceremonies to celebrate the Class of 2021, spreading them out over two days and limiting the number of guests at each event to adhere to pandemic safety protocols.
Plans call for hosting four commencements, with students graduating from the School of Arts and Sciences during two ceremonies April 30, and graduates from the School of Workforce Development honored during two ceremonies May 1.
Students also have the option of participating virtually, and all four ceremonies will be live-streamed.
“Every commencement is a celebration, and this one even more so, as students have faced the challenges of a pandemic and emerged stronger,” GRCC President Bill Pink said. “We want to pay tribute to their determination, rejoice in their success, and recognize the faculty, staff, family and friends who supported our graduates and encouraged them to move forward.”
Spreading commencement out over four ceremonies and two days will allow graduates and a limited number of guests to attend the event in the Gerald R. Ford Fieldhouse while socially distancing and following additional health and safety protocols. GRCC continues to work with county health authorities and to monitor state and federal recommendations.
School of Arts and Sciences ceremonies are planned for 4 and 7 p.m. on Friday, April 30. School of Workforce Development ceremonies are planned for 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Saturday, May 1. Ceremony dates and times will be assigned by the college, but staff members will do their best to honor preferences.
Additional details will be posted at grcc.edu/commencement as they become available.
“This is a special moment in the lives of our students and their families -- one they’ll remember always,” said Tina Hoxie, associate provost and dean of Student Affairs. “It is the best day ever, celebration of the incredible accomplishments of the students, as well as the faculty and staff who guided and assisted them and the friends and family who supported them. I’m thrilled we can provide an in-person experience for everyone to enjoy.”
GRADfest 2021, an opportunity for students to pick up caps and gowns and take care of other matters related to commencement, is planned as a drive-through event from 3-6 p.m. March 30 in the DeVos Campus parking lot.
Additional information is available at grcc.edu/gradfest.
Last year, GRCC delayed commencement until Aug. 1, celebrating with a virtual, real-time celebration.