Mississippi State to host in-person commencement ceremonies this fall

Published 5:13 pm Thursday, October 22, 2020

Mississippi State is announcing plans for in-person fall commencement exercises to be held on the Starkville and Meridian campuses. The Starkville campus will have four ceremonies on Nov. 25 in Humphrey Coliseum, and MSU-Meridian will celebrate commencement on Dec. 1 at the MSU Riley Center. Multiple viewing options will be available for those who wish to watch these events remotely.

The university is requiring that all attendees—including graduates, guests and university employees—wear face coverings. Sanitizing stations will be available, and special seating and distancing protocols will be in place.

Attendance Nov. 25 in Starkville will be limited to four guests per graduate, and the Athletic Ticket Office will provide electronic ticketing for contactless entry. Each ceremony at Humphrey Coliseum will have a guest capacity of approximately 1,600 in the facility which, under normal conditions, seats more than 10,000. Constant custodial sanitation will take place before, during and after all ceremonies with intense focus on cleaning restrooms, entryways and other high-touch areas.

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Meridian campus commencement at the MSU Riley Center will be held Dec. 1 at 11 a.m. MSU-Meridian fall graduates are assigned two tickets for guest seating in the theater per COVID-19 restrictions. Doors open at 9:30 a.m., and only guests with tickets will be allowed to sit in the theater.

MSU President Mark E. Keenum will give the commencement address. A graduate of MSU with degrees in agricultural economics, Keenum is in his 12th year of tenure. During his presidency, Keenum has guided the university to unprecedented heights with an unwavering focus on students, preparing them for success in a rapidly changing world and emphasizing the important values of integrity, hard work and respect. His interest in international food security has strengthened the university’s contributions to global economic sustainability, and he has led MSU to record growth in enrollment, capital improvements and fundraising.

“Graduation is such a meaningful time for our students and our university. Despite the ongoing pandemic necessitating some adjustments to our traditional ceremony, I am looking forward to celebrating the accomplishments of our outstanding graduates with them and their families,” Keenum said.

MSU alumnus Hassell H. Franklin also will be honored with an honorary Doctor of Public Service degree during Starkville’s 2 p.m. ceremony for lifetime achievements and longtime major support of university programs. Franklin earned a 1959 management degree from MSU’s College of Business. During the integration of the University of Mississippi in 1962, he commanded the National Guard unit that protected James Meredith. In 1970, he founded Houston-based Franklin Corp., now one of the nation’s largest independently owned furniture manufacturing companies, and he continues to serve as chairman and CEO.

A generous philanthropist committed to the advancement of his home state, Franklin is a past president of the CREATE Foundation and has supported many other organizations. Selected MSU’s 1995 Alumnus of the Year, Franklin is a past president and longtime member of the Bulldog Club board of directors and former member of the College of Business advisory board. He is a current member of the MSU Foundation board, for which  he has served multiple terms. In 2000, he established a $1 million endowment at MSU to build the Franklin Furniture Institute, a research and training center benefitting the furniture community.

University leaders planning for the ceremonies said many elements of past graduations will be the same this fall; however, ongoing guidelines related to the COVID-19 pandemic are requiring that several adjustments be made to the conventional program. An entrance processional for graduates will not be included, but all graduates will walk across the stage as they are announced and congratulated. Graduates will leave in successive order after being recognized instead of returning to their seats. Likewise, guests should leave after their graduate is recognized.

All graduates, guests and employees will conduct self-screening prior to leaving home. Per MSU guidelines, this should include an “at-home” temperature check and review of potential COVID-19 symptoms, including cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, chills, muscle pains, sore throat, and a new loss of taste or smell. If anyone has any of these symptoms or a fever of greater than 100.4 degrees, the person should stay home.

Complete graduation details, as they become available, will be posted online at www.registrar.msstate.edu/students/graduation, as well as emailed directly to graduates, among other communications. MSU-Meridian information may be found at meridian.msstate.edu.