Dear Methodist University Community,
It is a great pleasure to tell you that I have just signed an agreement with Segra Stadium in downtown Fayetteville, N.C., to host the Methodist University 2021 Commencement Ceremony on May 8. I’m also happy to let you know we also are inviting our May and December 2020 graduates to walk the stage and be recognized for their achievements.
It was no small feat for the MU staff to secure this arrangement, and while many colleges are working on their plans for virtual ceremonies, we are spending the next few weeks finalizing details for our first in-person commencement since 2019.
For anyone not familiar, Segra is a new, state-of-the-art stadium (built in 2019) that is home to the Fayetteville Woodpeckers, an affiliate of Major League Baseball’s Houston Astros. It’s only fitting that this ballpark will be the location, as I’m also extremely pleased to announce that our commencement speaker this year will be Tom Austin. He is our NCAA record-setting baseball coach who has been positively influencing the lives of players and coaches at MU since he started coaching here in 1980.
Although this is great news, we need to remember that the safety of all Monarchs is, and will remain, our No. 1 priority. That means there will be mandatory restrictions at the stadium, and a limited number of tickets available for each student to distribute, but it also means we will have MU graduates crossing the stage and being hooded for the first time since COVID disrupted routine for everyone in March of last year.
A few of the details I can share now, with others forthcoming:
- Commencement 2021 will be held May 8, at Segra Stadium, starting at 10 a.m.
- In the event of rain, we also have secured 4 p.m. on May 8, and 10 a.m. on May 9 at Segra. These will be the only three opportunities for this May’s commencement.
- Each graduate will be issued five tickets (one for the graduate, one for the sponsor who does the hooding, and three for any additional guests). Ticket numbers are based on stadium capacity with social distancing.
- Socially distanced seating will be marked and utilized in the stadium.
- Because of necessary logistics on the field (Segra is allowing us to use their field despite having a game there just a few days later) not all visitors will have a good view of the stage but will be able to watch via the stadium’s large digital screen.
- It’s very important that all graduates visit our MU Commencement 2021 web page to fill out the Graduation Participation Form, and follow all directions there related to regalia, tickets, graduation announcements/rings, and more.
- Students should order their regalia immediately in order to get it on time.
Another traditional and important part of commencement at MU is our Baccalaureate service. We will hold the 2021 Baccalaureate in the Huff Concert Hall on campus on April 27 at 6:30 p.m., but because of safety protocols we will be limiting the in-person audience to just the May 2021 graduates.
I have said many times that my favorite event of the year is commencement. The hard work and dedication put in by students to reach this milestone in their academic careers is monumental, not just for the students themselves, but also for the families, faculty, staff, alumni, and other friends of MU, who have supported the students’ efforts. I’m delighted we will have the opportunity to celebrate these achievements in a more traditional fashion in May.
Stanley T. Wearden, Ph.D.