You can never say never in the world in which we are living, but the 2021 Commencement week that just was may be something the University may never see again.
Two years of graduating classes – the Classes of 2020 and 2021 – were honored. For the first time in University history, Commencement was held in Mackay Stadium. And if that wasn’t enough, the exercises stretched throughout the week, starting on a sun-splashed morning on Wednesday before they wrapped up under surly northern Nevada skies on Saturday afternoon.
“When you are grounded in the right values, you are always going to make a difference in the lives of everyone around you.”
A total of eight Commencement ceremonies were held, recognizing 8,350 degrees awarded between the 2020 and 2021 graduates.
The Class of 2020, who last May saw their in-person opportunity to graduate pivot to a virtual ceremony due to COVID, returned to campus for two in-person ceremonies on Wednesday.
The Class of 2021, which nearly missed an in-person opportunity until President Brian Sandoval announced on March 29 that the University would indeed be holding a socially distanced in-person gathering at Mackay Stadium in May, enjoyed two in-person ceremonies on Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. each day with a virtual ceremony held at 10 a.m. on Friday.
It was, Sandoval told the assembled graduates, an event that was a “long time coming.”
“And this is to all of your great credit, you worked through the disruption and reached graduation,” he said.
Sandoval praised the graduates for never losing their focus, for always looking out for others and for demonstrating what he called “The Wolf Pack Way.”
“Through your studies and experiences over the past four years – and particularly over the past year – you have come to understand a universal truth,” he said. “That when you are grounded in the right values, you are always going to make a difference in the lives of everyone around you.”
More than 190 majors were represented during Commencement. The graduates included Herz Gold Medalist Lily Liu, a biology major. In addition, Distinguished Nevadans from 2021 Robert Crowell (posthumously) and Lew and Joann Eklund (posthumously) as well as Distinguished Nevadans from 2020 Warren Lerude, Marybel Batjer and Tom Dolan were honored.