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Cleveland State University To Honor The Class of 2021 At Progressive Field

Cleveland State University will hold two commencement ceremonies for the Class of 2021 at Progressive Field Saturday, May 15. [Annie Wu / ideastream]
A Cleveland State logo on the side of a building on campus

 Cleveland State University will honor its undergraduate and graduate Classes of 2021 Saturday during two outdoor commencement ceremonies at Progressive Field.

CSU typically holds commencement activities on campus at the Wolstein Center, but it can't be used this year because it is indoors and because it's already being used  as the biggest coronavirus mass vaccination site in Ohio.

But Progressive Field works because it is open air, is large enough and has COVID-19 protocols in place, according to Cleveland State University President Harlan Sands, who added that this year’s graduation events will be memorable for far more than occuring during a pandemic.

“Our students are going to be sitting there. They're going to march in. They're going to sit behind home plate. I'm going to talk to them from the field,” he said. “They're going to come on to the field and walk out, so the field is the stage. I mean, it's kind of cool. And… their families are going to see them on the scoreboard. For the families to be able to sit there and look up on the scoreboard, see their son or daughter or friend or brother, sister, it's going to be amazing.”

U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Marcia Fudge – the first CSU graduate to be a Cabinet member, according to Sands – will give the commencement address at both ceremonies.

“Since she's a graduate of the law school, we're going to have our law school, in the afternoon, join with a couple of our other colleges, business and engineering,” Sands said.

Approximately 2,500 academic degrees will be conferred on members of the Class of 2021, including undergraduates and grad students, Sands said. Each graduating student was allotted three tickets for guests. 

“When you figure out the faculty and the platform party and the people we need there, we think we're going to have somewhere around 3,000 at each reception. And we can do that under the protocols that the Indians have established, and they fit our protocols as well so fully that everybody's going to be wearing masks. We're not going to have any close contact,” Sands said. “I won't be shaking 1,000 hands, that's for sure. I'm not even going to fist bump; we’re going to be doing elbow bumps. But they're excited.”

Graduation is always emotional, but this year’s will be a day particularly full of joy, Sands said, after the “incredible” and “tough road” the Class of 2021 has had.

“Just because of what they've been through, what their families have been through, and some of them have lost family members that were expected to be here this day,” Sands said. “So it's going to be an emotional, very emotional day, but it's also going to be a cathartic day for many of them.”

Jenny Hamel is the host of the “Sound of Ideas.”