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Penn State Announces Spring 2021 Commencement Speakers, Plans

For the first time in two years, Penn State will recognize spring graduates through a number of in-person commencement ceremonies this weekend.

Starting on Friday, May 7, the university will hand out more than 14,000 diplomas to Penn State seniors throughout all its campuses. Soon-to-be-graduates and up to two guests each can head to Beaver Stadium for in-person (albeit socially distanced) ceremonies that are scheduled rain or shine.

Here’s a brief breakdown of each college’s commencement plans and speakers so far.

University-Wide Virtual Ceremony

Not feeling up to head to Beaver Stadium? No problem. Penn State will stream a university-wide commencement celebration viewable for any and all folks at home through this link. The ceremony will kick off at 6 p.m. on Sunday, May 9.

The virtual event will recognize students at University Park, Commonwealth Campuses, and even Penn State’s World Campus. It’ll be headlined by a keynote speech from Bob McKinnon, a Penn State graduate, podcast host, and author of “Three Little Engines,” a retelling of the classic children’s book, “The Little Engine That Could.”

Thursday, May 6

The Schreyer Honors College will recognize its graduates with its annual medal ceremony at 7 p.m. The virtual event will include remarks from Penn State President Eric Barron, Dean Peggy Johnson, and Provost Nick Jones. It’ll be streamed online and available on the college’s website for a later viewing.

Friday, May 7

Penn State’s Graduate School will recognize its graduates at noon and feature a speech from Lora Weiss, Penn State’s senior vice president for research. Later, at 6 p.m., Penn State’s College of Engineering will honor its seniors alongside remarks from Schreyer Dean Peggy Johnson, who’s also a professor of civil engineering.

Saturday, May 8

This day will get started bright and early at 9 a.m. with the Smeal College of Business’ commencement ceremony, which will be headlined by John M. Arnold, a Penn State grad and the chairman and CEO of PPC Lubricants.

Later, at 1:30 p.m., Penn State will jointly welcome graduates from its Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications, College of Education, and College of Information, Sciences, and Technology. This ceremony will also feature a speech from Bob McKinnon.

Finally, at 6 p.m., Penn State will recognize graduates from its College of Arts and Architecture, College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, College of Nursing, and Eberly College of Science. This event will feature an address from Penn State alum Titilayo Shodiya, deputy quality manager at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, co-founder of MegaOhm Media LLC, and host of the critically acclaimed podcast, “Dope Labs.”

Sunday, May 9

At 9 a.m., it’ll be the College of Agricultural Sciences and College of Health and Human Development’s turn. Their graduates will hear from Alison Beam, a Penn State alumna who recently became Pennsylvania’s acting Secretary of Health.

Finally, at noon, the College of the Liberal Arts will honor its seniors. They’ll hear from Penn State Alumni Association President Randy Houston.

The College of the Liberal Arts moved its ceremony up to noon due to forecasted weather Sunday afternoon. Graduates, speakers, and guests may begin arriving at 11 a.m.

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About the Author

Matt DiSanto

Matt is a senior majoring in journalism and Onward State's managing editor. He's a huge Philadelphia sports fan, fantasy football aficionado, and washed-up drummer hailing from Collegeville, Pa. The quickest way to his heart is Margherita pizza and "Arrested Development" quotes. Follow him on Twitter @mattdisanto_ if you hate yourself or email Matt at [email protected] if you hate him.

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