Graduates’ names to be read at spring in-person graduation ceremonies after backlash

USF President Steven Currall on Wednesday afternoon announced updates to the spring commencement plans that include graduates standing to be recognized while their names are called during the ceremony. ORACLE PHOTO/LEDA ALVIM

After overwhelming dissent, USF President Steven Currall announced Wednesday afternoon that graduates will be able to stand and have their names read aloud during the in-person spring commencement ceremonies.

The change, made two days after the university announced plans to hold in-person graduation ceremonies at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, was due to “valuable feedback” USF received from students and their families, according to Currall.

“After consulting with experts from USF Health and the university event management team, we’re pleased to announce plans to read each graduate’s name during the ceremony while they stand to be recognized,” said Currall.

The university initially released its plans for an in-person graduation Monday afternoon without the traditional individual recognition of walking across stage while names are announced as a way to mitigate the risk of spreading COVID-19. Backlash was received hours later, with students creating a petition and emailing the commencement committee to reconsider the decision.

To attend the ceremonies, graduates must register by April 5. Restrictions to lower the risks of transmitting COVID-19 will be put in place, including the use of face masks as well as installing a limit of two guests per graduate.

Currall’s email also provided additional details regarding commencement, stating that the university will be providing formal graduation photos taken by the university’s “official photographer” on all three campuses.

The photographer will be at the Tampa campus April 8-10 from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., the St. Pete campus April 5-7 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and the Sarasota-Manatee campus April 23 from noon-7 p.m.

Additional details on the dates and times of each ceremony will be announced in the coming weeks, based on the number of students who register, according to Currall. The ceremonies will also be livestreamed for those who can’t attend in person.

“As we have done throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, our decisions are guided by medical experts and public health data, with the health and safety of our community as our priority,” said Currall.