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CLA Commencement Ceremony on May 16

March 11, 2021

Northrup in spring with tulips blooming.

Northrup in spring with tulips blooming.
Northrop in the springtime with tulips blooming
CLA Commencement 2021 will be a virtual ceremony.
The video will broadcast on Sunday, May 16, at 1:00 p.m. CT.
Visit CLA’s Commencement information webpage for updates 

Our students’ graduation is the most joyous occasion the College of Liberal Arts celebrates. Commencement marks a ceremonial conferring of degrees that allows us to congratulate our graduates with splendor and pageantry. No matter what, CLA is committed to giving all of our graduating students and their families a way to partake in this beloved tradition.

Last year when COVID-19 disrupted our 2020 Commencement, the University of Minnesota stepped in to create a systemwide virtual Commencement ceremony. This year, however, the University has determined that each college should return to hosting their own Commencement ceremonies in whatever ways best suit their populations and are achievable given the State of Minnesota’s public health requirements.

It’s a point of pride that CLA is the largest college at the University and, indeed, has more students than any college in the State of Minnesota. We are the only college at the U with so many graduating students that we traditionally host two undergraduate Commencement ceremonies in the 3M Arena at Mariucci, with half our graduates attending in the morning and the other half in the afternoon. And we hold a third Commencement ceremony for students receiving their graduate degrees. In a typical year, around 2,600 CLA undergraduate and graduate students cross the stage to be recognized for their achievements, to the cheers of a total audience of approximately 20,000 guests. 

We do not know the public health conditions that will exist in May, but we do know that planning at this time for in-person Commencement events this spring must accommodate current State of Minnesota restrictions of 6' physical distancing and limits on event facilities’ maximum capacities. With these parameters, it is not feasible for CLA to host our Commencement in person. We also know that even with an easing of travel restrictions by May, a great many of our graduating students and their families still would be unable to return to campus for Commencement.

For these reasons, CLA Commencement 2021 will be a virtual ceremony in a video broadcast on Sunday, May 16, at 1:00 p.m. Central Time. 

  • CLA’s virtual ceremony will include students graduating from both our undergraduate programs and our graduate and professional programs. 

  • A recording will be posted immediately after the ceremony for viewing by those who are not able to watch the ceremony as it debuts. 

  • Our 2021 CLA virtual Commencement will proceed even if smaller graduating student celebrations become possible as supplemental in-person events. 

In the coming days, CLA students who are scheduled to graduate this spring will receive instructions about how to participate in the virtual Commencement ceremony in personalized ways. CLA faculty and staff will also be alerted about how they can join in congratulating our graduates. Meanwhile, please consult CLA’s Commencement information webpage, where we will continue to post updates.

Thank you for your understanding that the health and safety for all must remain our utmost priority until it is safe for us to gather together again in large groups indoors. We know what a special occasion Commencement is for our graduates and their families. Be assured that CLA is working to make our 2021 ceremony joyful, memorable, and meaningful by creating the best experience possible.