ETSU to hold in-person commencement ceremonies Thursday through Sunday



JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) — East Tennessee State University will hold commencement ceremonies on campus this week for spring 2021 graduates plus those who graduated in spring and fall 2020.

This comes after the university held its spring and fall commencement ceremonies virtually last year due to the pandemic.

Beginning Thursday, ETSU will host several ceremonies over the course of four days instead of the traditional two Saturday ceremonies.

The university says protocols will be in place in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19 (unless otherwise noted, events will be held in the Mini-Dome on campus):

  • Face coverings will be required at all times for graduates, guests and staff while inside the Mini-Dome.
  • Attendance is limited, and each graduate will receive four tickets for guests.
  • All graduate and guest seating will be assigned by section and physically distanced.
  • The graduate experience with check-in and crossing the stage will be contactless.
  • Enhanced cleaning protocols will be in place.

ETSU listed the following schedule of ceremonies:

Thursday, May 6

  • 10 a.m. Bill Gatton College of Pharmacy Hooding and Commencement
  • 2 p.m. Quillen College of Medicine Hooding and Commencement, with guest speaker Dr. James Ellzy, Class of 1996

Friday, May 7

  • 10 a.m. Class of 2020 Commencement, with guest speaker Aamir Shaikh, 2019-20 Student Government Association president
  • 1 p.m. ROTC Commissioning Ceremony, with guest speaker Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Leslie Purser. During this ceremony held at the Martin Center for the Arts, 12 ETSU graduates will take the oath of office as second lieutenants in the U.S. Army, marking the culmination of their ROTC leadership training.
  • 3 p.m. Class of 2021 Commencement – College of Arts and Sciences, with guest speaker Dr. Brooks Pond, winner of ETSU’s Distinguished Faculty Award in Teaching
  • 7 p.m. College of Nursing Convocation – A time-honored tradition, the convocation is the symbolic welcoming of newly graduated nurses into the nursing profession or to advanced practice specialties
  • 7 p.m. Multicultural/Lavender Graduation Celebration – This special celebration recognizing and honoring the achievements and diverse identities/ethnicities of graduating seniors from the spring, summer and fall of 2020 and spring 2021 will be held in the Martha Street Culp Auditorium on the lower level of the D.P. Culp Student Center, hosted by the Mary V. Jordan Multicultural Center and Patricia Robertson Pride Center. (Streaming will be offered via Zoom; email for registration.)

Saturday, May 8

  • 10 a.m. Class of 2021 Commencement – Clemmer College and College of Public Health, with guest speaker Dr. Lisa Piercey, Tennessee Commissioner of Health
  • 3 p.m. Class of 2021 Commencement – College of Clinical and Rehabilitative Health Sciences and College of Nursing, with guest speaker Beth Bass, U.S. director of Women’s Sport Marketing, Adidas

Sunday, May 9

  • 1 p.m. Class of 2021 Commencement – College of Business and TechnologyCross-Disciplinary StudiesPharmacy Studies, and Global Sport Leadership, with guest speaker Dr. Wilsie Bishop, provost and senior vice president for academics

For more information and to access livestreams of the commencement ceremonies, visit

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