SRU to host five outdoor commencement ceremonies, April 30-May 1



More than 1,700 Slippery Rock University students with have their degrees conferred and graduate during SRU’s five commencement ceremonies, April 30-May 1, at Mihalik-Thompson Stadium.

April 28, 2021

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. — Slippery Rock University is stepping outside of its usual routine for commencement ceremonies this year. For the first time since 2008, SRU will confer degrees outdoors as the University will host five individual commencement ceremonies honoring the spring 2021 graduates, April 30-May 1, at Mihalik-Thompson Stadium.

The University decided earlier this year to move the ceremonies outdoors to protect the health and safety of attendees because of the COVID-19 pandemic. In years prior to the pandemic, spring commencement was conducted via three ceremonies inside Morrow Field House.

All ceremonies this year, which will combine traditional elements of commencement with some adaptations, will be livestreamed on for those friends and family members unable to attend in person or who prefer to watch the ceremony online.

Dates and times for the ceremonies are as follows:

  • Graduate Studies, 6 p.m., Friday, April 30.
  • College of Education, 9 a.m., Saturday, May 1.
  • College of Business, noon, Saturday, May 1.
  • College of Liberal Arts, 3 p.m., Saturday, May 1.
  • College of Health, Engineering and Science, 6 p.m., Saturday, May 1.

Gates open one hour prior to each ceremony.

As many as 1,700 graduates will have their degrees conferred during the two days. Although Mihalik-Thompson Stadium seats 10,000, each student received two tickets for guests to accommodate required physical distancing and capacity limits. There will also be mandatory wearing of face coverings. The names of all participating graduates will be read at each ceremony as they cross the stage.

Commencement will be conducted rain or shine. In the event of severe weather, ceremonies will be rescheduled. Graduates and guests should check the University's commencement webpage for updates in the event of severe weather.

Larry McCarthy, assistant professor of accounting, economics and finance, will serve as grand marshal and will open and close each ceremony.

SRU President William Behre will provide remarks and confer the degrees. There will also be greetings by a member of the SRU council of trustees.

Abbey Zink, provost and vice president for academic affairs, will present candidates for degrees, as well as Dan Bauer, dean, College of Liberal Arts; Keith Dills, dean, College of Education; Lawrence Shao, dean, College of Business; and Michael Zieg, interim dean, College of Health, Environment and Science; for their respective colleges.

Don Huddart, a 1987 SRU graduate and past president of the SRU Alumni Association, will welcome the graduates as new SRU alumni on behalf of the association.

The "Star-Spangled Banner" and the "SRU Alma Mater" will be sung by the following SRU students:

  • Shaun Klein, a junior music education major from East Brady, for the 6 p.m., April 30 ceremony.
  • Elizabeth Saver, a junior music major from Clarion, for the 9 a.m., May 1, ceremony.
  • Rachel Heck, a junior music performance major from Cranesville, for the noon, May 1 ceremony.
  • Leah Buczek, a junior music education major from New Castle, for the 3 p.m., May 1 ceremony.
  • Devon Vanasco, a freshman music education major from New Castle, for 6 p.m., May 1 ceremony.

Student marshals for each ceremony include the following graduating students who will hold either the University or their respective college flag for their ceremony:

  • Cora Russell, an accounting major from North East (College of Business).
  • Taylor Black, a communication major from Greencastle (College of Business).
  • Taylor Davis, an exercise science major from Darlington (College of Health, Engineering and Science).
  • Noelle Potts, a social work major from Colver (College of Health, Engineering and Science).
  • Jacqueline Routhier, an early childhood/special education major from Rocky Mount, North Carolina (College of Education).
  • Abigail McKay, a secondary education-English major from Reading (College of Education).
  • Martha Dunkelberger, a dual dance major and physical education major from Spring Mills (College of Liberal Arts).
  • Lauren McBarron, a dance major from Harrison City (College of Liberal Arts).
  • Tatyana Martin, a music therapy major from Pasadena, Maryland (graduate studies).
  • Fred Perkins, a music therapy major from Raleigh, North Carolina (graduate studies).

Additional information is available on the University's commencement webpage, by calling 724.738.2849 or by emailing the Commencement Office at

MEDIA CONTACT: Justin Zackal | 724.738.4854  |