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UW Plans Virtual Spring 2021 Commencement

February 24, 2021

The University of Wyoming’s spring 2021 commencement ceremony will be conducted virtually in May, due to continuing concerns about large gatherings and travel related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The ceremony, following the format of both the spring and winter 2020 commencement events, will air Saturday, May 15, at 10 a.m. It will include all colleges and degree levels.

“With the increasing availability of the COVID vaccine and decreasing numbers of cases, there’s reason to be optimistic that we’re turning the corner on the pandemic. However, it does not appear that conditions in May will allow for the traditional large, in-person commencement ceremonies,” says Ryan O’Neil, dean of students and associate vice president for student affairs. “We are planning a very memorable virtual ceremony similar to those we conducted last year, and we hope our new graduates, their families and friends will join us in celebrating their wonderful accomplishments.”

Also factoring into the decision was the fact that almost all UW courses will move to online delivery following the March 31-April 4 spring break, meaning many students would have to return to campus for an in-person commencement.

While details of the virtual ceremony are in planning -- more information on how students and families can participate will be communicated later -- there are other options for members of the spring 2021 graduating class.

First, they have the ability to return for a future spring or winter commencement ceremony. In fact, this is a practice that has been in place for many years at UW.

Additionally, UW is repurposing its spring 2021 commencement budget to purchase and deliver keepsakes for graduates. These commencement packages each will include a mortar board, tassel and stole so that graduates can have a “tassel-turning” moment during the virtual ceremony and take photographs. Those students graduating with honors will receive appropriate cords, and graduate students will receive hoods and tams. UW will not provide graduation robes, but they can be purchased if students want them.

Also, UW is planning a socially distanced, drop-in event with Lifetouch photographers in late March, before classes move online for the remainder of the semester. Spring graduates would have the opportunity to have professional portraits taken. There would be no cost associated with having the photo taken; digital proofs would be provided to students via email, so they could then decide if they would like to purchase them.

Students will receive more information about how to opt in to a commencement package as well as the potential photo opportunity via their UW email accounts in the coming weeks.

For more details on the virtual commencement as they become available, go to

UW is planning for a fall 2021 semester with more in-person experiences and fewer restrictions related to COVID-19, contingent upon vaccine availability and acceptance, along with continued downward trends in infection numbers.

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