Rockhurst University to host first in-person December commencement in 16 years


Michael López , Reporter

This coming Saturday, Dec. 11, 2021, Rockhurst University will be hosting its first in person December commencement ceremony since 2005. Each year, for a variety of reasons, select students meet the requirements for graduation at the end of the fall semester instead of in the spring, when the University traditionally hosts their annual commencement each May. 

Since the University has not offered a ceremony in December in nearly two decades, many of December graduates have been neglected the opportunity to “walk” and celebrate their accomplishment in front of friends and family. If wanted, however, previous December graduates were permitted to do so during the following May ceremony, at a time where many recent grads likely would have moved away or transitioned into professional or graduate program roles. Nonetheless, the University has recognized this and is now attempting to provide an opportunity to recognize the accomplishments of all their students, regardless of when they graduate. 

The in-person December commencement ceremony was intended to be reintroduced last year in 2020. However, since at the time there were still many questions about the pandemic, the University was forced to stick to the procedures they adopted the previous May, hosting an exclusively online commencement program instead. 

Earlier in 2021, as vaccines began to roll out and more and more within the adult population were able to be vaccinated, it started to become possible again to organize larger events, especially ones that can take place outdoors. As a result, this last May, the University was capable of returning to an in-person commencement. However, this one looked somewhat different, as it occurred at a larger venue and was outdoors in order to decrease the risk of potential spread of COVID-19.

Later this week, the University will take on a challenge it has not faced since before the pandemic, and that is hosting a full in-person ceremony indoors. Due to the smaller class size present in the December commencement, Rockhurst’s own Mason-Halpin FieldHouse will provide enough space to host the graduates and their loved ones will be there to cheer them on as they commemorate all their hard work. Once the event is over, it will mark the first successful in-person graduation ceremony indoors since before the start of the pandemic. 

The Rockhurst University registrar’s office weighed in on the topic of how many students they intend to see walk this Saturday. “We have at least 200 plus people participating in this ceremony and we are very excited for them,” an assistant in the registrar’s office said. 

College is hard work. Prior to the pandemic, taking a break from coursework or dropping out altogether would have been considered fair in many cases. After the pandemic, it almost seems necessary for most. Nonetheless, some students, for a variety of reasons, managed to stick with it, allowing themselves to get to this coming Saturday’s commencement. As a result, Saturday will not only mark an achievement for them and what they have conquered, but will hopefully also symbolize a University that is managing to return to what most are calling a “new normal.”

Information regarding this Saturday’s commencement ceremony can be found on the Rockhurst University website at