Art by Ally Armstrong
Hold on to your graduation caps for now — commencement is still up on the air. Pepperdine won’t make final decisions on whether the scheduled class of 2020 and 2021 graduation ceremonies will occur in May until April 12, Seaver Dean Michael Feltner wrote in a March 26 email.
“I totally get that it’s frustrating for parents and for students to have us delaying making a final decision but it’s just because things are moving so quickly,” said Lexi Palma, manager of administrative services in the Seaver Dean’s Office.
LA County is currently in the moderate Orange Tier of California’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy guidelines for reopening. In this tier, large ceremonies like commencement are limited to 33% capacity — or 67% if attendees provide proof of vaccination — for both audience and guests, advance registration is required and out-of-state guests are not permitted.
The University will not hold commencement ceremonies until out-of-state guests are permitted by county guidelines, Feltner wrote. Administration remains committed to in-person commencement on Alumni Park even if the currently scheduled May 21 and 22 ceremonies cannot occur and will reschedule them to a later date if necessary.
If COVID-19 case numbers continue to improve, LA County may move to the minimal Yellow Tier in early May, Feltner said. The yellow tier allows for 67% capacity regardless of whether attendees or graduates have proof of vaccination but still does not permit out-of-state guests.
“It would be grossly inappropriate to conduct a graduation ceremony that precluded graduates not currently residing in California or the guests of graduates who are living outside of California,” Feltner wrote in his March 26 email.
The University hopes continued improvement in LA County COVID-19 case rates will lead the health department to allow out-of-state guests and graduates by the May ceremony dates, Feltner said.
Regardless of whether graduation ceremonies can be held in person, President Jim Gash will deliver a message and prayer to graduates ahead of the ceremony virtually. The class of 2021 will have a Loqui multicultural celebration ceremony conducted virtually at 6 p.m., PDT on May 20.
Even if commencement cannot be held in May, Feltner wrote Pepperdine remains committed to holding separate in-person ceremonies for both the class of 2020 and 2021.
“We look forward to welcoming all students back to the Malibu campus and to heartily celebrating the accomplishments of each,” Feltner wrote.
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