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SDSU grads receive diplomas in virtual ceremonies

Amber Alvey delivering speech for virtual ceremony
Amber Alvey was the graduate commencement speaker at South Dakota State University. SDSU held three prerecorded ceremonies to honor the graduates. The names of 2,661 students were announced as if they were marching onto the stage.

South Dakota State University’s spring commencement went off with the precision of a prerecorded ceremony Saturday. In fact, that’s just what it was.

Three virtual ceremonies were aired at the time and day that live ceremonies would have been held had not the COVID-19 pandemic changed life in South Dakota and around the world. Organizers were pleased with viewers and viewership. Over the weekend, there were a combined 8,482 views on YouTube with a total of 1,747 hours watched from around the world—including Bangladesh, Canada, India, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia and Sri Lanka.

Between the three ceremonies—two for undergrads and one for graduates—the names of 2,661 students were announced as if they were marching onto the stage.

President Barry Dunn extended his congratulations via a recorded message as did Andi Fouberg, executive director of the SDSU Alumni Association.

Other parts of the ceremonies were messages from Mary Kay Helling, the retiring vice provost of Academic Affairs, and graduates Allyson Monson, political science and communication studies, Clark; Selene Renes, civil engineering, Harrisburg; and Amber Alvey, graduate student in communication and media studies, Scotland.

In total, 22 faculty and students were filmed for the videos and nearly 280 script pages were written and read.

The highest viewed ceremony was at 10 a.m. when graduates from the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences; the College of Natural Sciences; the College of Nursing and the Jerome J. Lohr College of Engineering were honored. That video had 4,136 views with 3,102 unique views and 892 total hours watched.

In addition to the ceremony videos, graduates had the option to be mailed a package with two copies of the commencement program, an alumni coin and a personalized note from their respective college. About 1,200 students did that, and that is close to the average number of students who choose to participate in traditional commencement ceremonies.

In addition to the graduates, retired faculty member Leon Wrage received an honorary Doctor of Public Service degree.

Plans are in the works for fall semester classes to begin with in-person instruction Aug. 24.