FB Pixel Skip to Main Content

Western Colorado University is pleased to announce we will host an in-person Commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 8 at 10 a.m. in the Mountaineer Bowl.

Commencement 2021 Details

In cooperation with Gunnison County Health and Human Services, COVID-19 protocols will be followed. Graduates’ chairs will be distanced and the grandstands will have sections taped to promote social distancing. Guests are asked to wear masks and follow all instructions and signs upon arrival to the Bowl. Rather than a large reception afterward, smaller gatherings are being arranged by department. While only two guests per graduate can attend in person, we will have a live feed for everyone watching from the comfort of their own homes.

“It’s a different time this spring with the COVID-19 crisis as we increase vaccinations and reduce overall risks throughout the county,” said Gunnison County Health and Human Services Director Joni Reynolds. “I am very supportive of Western plans for an outdoor commencement ceremony that includes public health measures to reduce COVID-19 transmission risks.”

Since this event will be held outdoors, our graduating students and their family and friends will experience Western’s beautiful mountain setting. Still, spring in the Rockies is fraught with unpredictable conditions. As we like to say, our best back up plan is be prepared for anything.

Guests are being asked bring plenty of warm clothes and blankets for the ceremony, which should last about two hours. Sunny skies are the norm throughout the year in Gunnison, so sunscreen and sunglasses should be a part of preparation for a glorious day.

Following a year of uncertainty requiring a great deal of flexibility on the part of parents, students, and Western’s faculty and staff, the in-person commencement ceremony will not only feature the 2021 grads but will also acknowledge 2020 graduates who were unable to “walk the stage” last year.

For those who missed out on the 2020 graduation and would like to walk this year, please contact Paula Lee in the Registrar’s Office at plee@western.edu for details.

This year’s commencement speaker will be Western graduate and serial entrepreneur Rob Wright ’00. Currently serving as founder and CEO of World Back to Work, a COVID consultancy, Wright has founded numerus ventures over the last 20 years.

Most notably, Wright launched ReachLocal, an interactive marketing solutions company in 2004 that he was fortunate enough to take public in 2010. Wright served on the Western Colorado University Foundation Board for eight years and served as president for three years. He currently resides in Agoura Hills California with his wife Wendy and daughter Ella.

Spring Commencement caps off a year in which Western—its students, faculty and staff—have persevered through a global crisis, the COVID-19 pandemic. Western has held in-person, hybrid and online classes consistently throughout the year, adjusting scheduled classes in response to case counts. Through consistent symptom screening, random testing, compassionate quarantining, and ultimately the facilitation of vaccinations for not only faculty and staff, but also students, Western continues to show great results in combatting COVID-19 and in keeping not only campus, but also the community that surrounds it, safe.

“Western is very proud and thankful of the efforts of our students to follow all the COVID-19 related guidance they have received,” said Vice President for Enrollment and Student Success Abel Chávez. “They have proven they are ‘Western Strong,’ and we’re honored to celebrate this milestone with our grads.”

Spring Commencement begins at 10 a.m. on Saturday, May 8. Gates will open at 8:30am.

Please check back for periodic updates that will be made regarding Commencement and information needed to attend. We look forward to celebrating our graduates on Saturday, May 8 at Western Colorado University!

Ticket information

Each graduate is provided two tickets for guests. The restriction is to accommodate our COVID-19 plan. To claim you tickets which will be available beginning Monday, May 3, please follow instructions at this link. If you do not need one or both tickets and wish to share them with someone else, please PRINT the tickets and physically give them to that person.

For undergraduates who have not yet purchased a cap and gown, these may be purchased through the University Bookstore. If you are not on campus, you can order these items through the bookstore online. Please stop by or order online as soon as possible to ensure you get a cap and gown. Availability is dependent on inventory.

Please be sure to check for holds on your account. If there are any significant holds, your diplomas will not be sent until these have been cleared.

If you are participating in commencement, but will be continuing in the summer or fall you MUST be registered prior to graduation—the sooner the better! You also MUST have fewer than nine (9) credits remaining toward your degree plan.

Please be aware of the following dates and instructions:

Commencement Schedule

Senior Reception: University Center south patio, 4-6 p.m. Please email Sara Phillips if you are interested in attending.

Pick up reader cards: Reader cards are used to call your name during graduation because we don’t have assigned seating. Please use these to tell us exactly how to pronounce your name. If you have confirmed your attendance at Commencement, we will have these cards pre-printed for you. We will have blank cards available at Commencement and in the Registrar’s Office.

Pick your cards up at the Office of the Registrar (Taylor 300) from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Any cards that have not been picked up by Friday, May 7, will be available near line up for Commencement on Saturday, May 8. Please try to get these ahead of time to avoid congestion.

Potential Rehearsal: Details are still being worked out and instructions will be shared soon if we will have an in-person rehearsal.

School of Graduate Studies Reception: 5:30-6:30 p.m. at the Borick Business Building south lawn tent

Commencement: Meet in the Mountaineer Bowl to line up for the ceremony by 9:15 a.m. wearing your cap and gown. Please be on time. Our faculty marshals will help you find your place in line. If you have accessibility needs or require other assistance, please contact the Registrar’s Office

REMINDER: We have capped guest attendance at two (2) per student.  Please use the links above to claim your tickets.

Receptions: Instead of our usual large reception after the ceremony, departments are planning their own smaller functions. Please check with your department for details.

Deadline for a Spring 2021 degree: (This does not apply to upcoming summer or fall graduates)

All final grades must be received, including official transcripts for transfer courses, by this date. If your final requirements are not received by this date, you must communicate with Degree Analyst Paula Lee your new plan for graduation. Please make sure to wrap up any loose ends so you fully graduate.

Take the Next Step

Apply to Western

Apply to Western

We understand that applying to a university can be daunting, which is why we make our admission process as simple and straightforward as possible. Learn more about applying to your program of choice at Western.

Visit Western

Visit Western

The best way to find out what makes Western such a special place is to experience it for yourself. Our student-led tours give you an insider’s perspective on everything from academics to student life.

Alumni Community

Alumni Community

We keep the Mountaineer spirit going strong within our alumni community. Whether getting together with friends at an annual event, making a donation or mentoring a student, graduates continue to play an important role in the Western community.