After a hiatus due to COVID-19 restrictions, graduation festivities are set to return for students completing their degrees in May — and the class of 2020 and 2021 are invited to a few events, Loyola officials said.
Graduate Professional and Adult Student Life and Student Activities and Greek Affairs (SAGA) are kicking off celebratory events by hosting a toast for class of 2022 in Information Commons May 8 at 3 p.m. and at the Gentile Arena 5 p.m. May 9, respectively. Students graduating are also invited to attend Baccalaureate Mass an hour before the May 9 event at the Madonna Della Strada Chapel.
SAGA is also hosting send-off events for seniors. The events planned include a Cubs game and Broadway show, according to associate director of external communications Matt McDermott. While most graduation festivities are free of charge, students will have to pay a fee to attend the Cubs game and Broadway show, according to McDermott. The fees are not announced as of publication.
In addition to events hosted by the university for all graduating students, individual schools are also doing their part to celebrate students’ achievements, according to Associate Dean Joyce Knight.
The Quinlan School of Business is hosting honors and award presentations May 11 at 2:30 p.m. in the Corboy Law Center for qualifying students, the School of Education is commemorating undergraduate honors students and students receiving laudatory status May 9 at 11 a.m. and all students graduating from the School of Environmental Sustainability are invited to attend a celebratory event May 9 from 2:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., according to the university’s commencement website.
Festivities exclusively for graduate students include a commencement reception May 9 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., a doctoral reception May 6 at 5:30 p.m. for students graduating from the education doctorate program and a virtual event May 9 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. for students, their guests and faculty of the school of Parkinson School of Health Sciences and Public Health, according to the commencement website.
Parkinson School of Health Sciences and Public Health and Stritch School of Medicine are also awarding qualifying students May 10 from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. in Centennial Forum and May 13 at SSOM Atrium, respectively, the website said.
To capture their time at Loyola, law students graduating this year will be given the opportunity to get pictures taken by a professional photographer outside Corby Law Center May 13 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m..
Stritch School of Medicine Baccalaureate Mass and Law Baccalaureate Mass will be held May 13 and May 14, respectively.
More unannounced graduation-related events are currently in the planning stage, according to Knight.
For the final celebration, all individual schools are hosting receptions following graduation ceremonies.
“It’s the time where graduates can gather and find their family members and anyone else who is there, as well as faculty and staff from their school who will be available to take pictures,” assistant dean Lauren Sanchez described the reception. “There’s a very light reception with refreshments.”
COVID-19 guidelines at the festivity events will be decided and announced near the date of the events depending on the spread of the virus and the city and state’s guidelines at that time, according to Knight.
“It’s been two years since we’ve been able to do this so I hope this will be a positive celebratory time for students,” Sanchez said.
Eleven graduation ceremonies will be held during commencement week, according to McDermott.
Loyola is also welcoming back the class of 2020 and 2021 alumni the first weekend in May.
Since the class of 2020 and 2021 didn’t get a chance to walk, Loyola invited them and a plus one to celebrate their graduation at a dinner and cruise on Lake Michigan the evening of May 6 and a reception on Lake Shore Campus’ East Quad May 7.
To conclude the celebratory weekend, students who graduated in 2020 and 2021 are also invited to attend Mass at the Madonna Della Strada Chapel May 8 10:30 a.m..
McDermott said approximately 1,500 former students have registered for the events.
While the university is attempting to compensate for the class of 2020 and 2021 missing out on the traditional in-person graduation ceremony, some alumni aren’t satisfied with Loyola’s efforts.
Jake Yocum, a class of 2021 alumni, said he won’t be attending the cruise or reception events.
“Their choices regarding student life during the COVID pandemic and their neglect to really put out much of an effort besides a powerpoint for our graduation have all led me to leave rather a sour taste in my mouth,” Yocum said. “As a result, I don’t see a reason to take multiple hours out of one weekend to come back to the university to sit on the lawn and listen to somebody speak.”
The university understands that the events planned for Celebration Weekend “cannot replace” in-person graduation ceremonies, which were canceled in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic, however, the university looks forward to celebrating the accomplishments of class of 2020 and 2021 in-person during Celebration Weekend, according to McDermott.