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Time to Celebrate

Dean Fernando Miralles-Wilhelm

477 days. It’s been that long since we’ve been able to celebrate directly with our students at an in-person graduation event. 

Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have kept safety precautions as our focus and have had to limit contact at our traditional graduation festivities for the health and well-being of our Mason Science community. Instead of the traditional degree celebrations and Mason commencement ceremonies, for the past year, we’ve pivoted to a virtual format encouraging online and social shout outs to acknowledge our graduates’ awards and significant accomplishments. 

We continue to follow CDC precautions, yet based on current State of Virginia recommended protocols, we now have an exciting opportunity to welcome our students back to campus for graduation—and we want to make the most of it.

We quickly need to let our graduating students know what’s happening and we need your help. Please speak to your Class of 2021 students directly or use this slide in the class discussions or via email to let them know 5 p.m. EST on Friday, April 16, is their deadline to choose between two options:  1) our College of Science outdoor Mini Degree Celebration on Monday morning, May 10; or 2) the Mason-sponsored Patriot Processional, throughout graduation week 5/10-14, 2021 students can select a window for their preferred time at the Mason soccer field venue.

We are working to keep a reduced attendance at our Monday mini Degree Celebration event to only those essential or specific faculty and staff required to execute the event. If faculty are interested in taking part in some aspect of Mason’s graduation activities, volunteer opportunities exist for faculty marshals at Mason’s Patriot Processional. Although your support will cover the broad Mason community vs just the College of Science, your support is welcome, and, like usual, Mason will even spring for volunteers’ regalia rental. Those renting before, check your email or you can order through the Mason bookstore by 2 p.m. April 23. Faculty never renting from Mason before will need to contact sm366@bncollege.com to supply the details of your order.

Provost Ginsberg sent an email last week describing the various graduation ceremonies. Here are some additional details on the celebrations.

Each college is organizing their own ceremony with some common Mason-wide parameters. And the College of Science is leading the way with the first in person ceremony. Thanks to the team working hard behind the scenes to make this event happen.

Students at graduation

This spring’s College of Science sponsored Mini Degree Celebration ceremony is somewhat like what we’ve done before, but with a socially distanced set-up, a smaller scaled agenda and no catered event afterwards. The Monday morning, rain or shine event includes college administration and student speakers, as well as readers to announce students’ names as they walk across the stage.

Graduating students from the classes of 2021 and their three guests sit in socially distanced pods to attend this face-to-face yet smaller scaled degree celebration outside the Eagle Bank Arena in parking Lot L. 

The Patriot Processional skips the speeches, collective Mason Science community audience, and customized remarks, yet allows graduates the opportunity to walk across a stage at the soccer field to take pictures with eight of their family and friends.

And there’s more. Mason has also invited our PhD graduates from both the Class of 2021 AND 2020 back for their own in person celebrations that the university will sponsor on Friday, May 14 in addition to the university’s virtual Class of 2021 commencement also being held on that day at 2 p.m. EST. Need more details? Check either the Mason Science Degree Celebration website or the Mason Graduation website for the latest information.

It will be a busy few weeks to prepare, and we will need everyone’s help to spread the word. I’m counting on us all to make my first spring commencement at Mason one we, and all the graduates from the classes of 2021 and 2020, will always remember.

FMW