UNK plans Cope Stadium outdoor commencement for July 31

KEARNEY – The University of Nebraska at Kearney’s combined 2020 Spring and Summer Commencement will be held at 10 a.m. on Friday, July 31. To support COVID-19 directed health response, it is being planned as an outdoor event on Foster Field at Cope Stadium.

The backup location, if needed because of inclement weather, will be the UNK Health and Sports Center. The event will begin at 10 a.m.

In support of current safety protocol and to meet facility capacity requirements, in-person attendance will be limited to no more than three invited guests per graduate.

A livestream will be provided for an overflow crowd and additional guests beyond the three-per-student limit. Guests who are unable to attend in person may watch the ceremony via the livestream or view the recording later via UNK’s website.

Students participating in the ceremony will be required to wear traditional commencement attire, and current protocol requires face coverings and physical distancing for participating students, personnel and guests. Individuals will be asked to monitor themselves for symptoms and stay at home if they are feeling ill.

The commencement website, unk.edu/about/commencement, will provide additional details, including parking directives, entrance locations and other information as the event gets closer.

On March 31, due to the expanding health crisis, UNK announced the postponement of spring commencement and plans to combine the ceremony with its 2020 summer exercises. A printed spring program and video were produced in recognition of the spring graduates, and those graduates were invited to participate in the summer ceremony.

“Commencement is one of the most important days in our life, and we made sure to stay focused on that by honoring as many traditions and wishes for these families’ celebrations as was possible, given the health and safety measures,” said Kelly Bartling, vice chancellor for enrollment management and marketing.

Bartling said the decision to limit guests is based on UNK’s strong desire to offer a meaningful, memorable and enjoyable commencement experience for graduates and their guests and, at the same time, observe current safety guidelines and regulations in their strictest sense.

“We plan to stay flexible regarding a change of venue from Foster Field to the Health and Sports Center for weather-related issues. A definitive decision will be made by July 29 and communicated accordingly,” Bartling said.

Graduates are asked to continually check their email, the unk.edu/commencement website and social media for updates and specific final details such as designated entrances, and graduate check-in, line-up and seating. Commencement rehearsal will be held at 3 p.m. on Thursday, July 30.

“Graduates and their families and friends have been so patient and understanding through this spring and summer as we have worked to make decisions and plans. This will certainly be a day for us all to remember.”

Bartling said planners expect more than 500 graduates to participate.

Graduates who have questions that aren’t answered on the commencement website should call the Registrar’s office at 308-865-8527 or email unkregistrar@unk.edu.