Woman of color in graduation robes on top of her car at UW-Green Bay Graducation Drive-Thru Experience

Photos: UW-Green Bay’s Drive-Through Commencement gives grads and supporters a chance to celebrate

Gratitude instead of disappointment permeated UW-Green Bay’s Drive-through Commencement experience today, Saturday, August 22, 2020 on the Green Bay Campus.

For many of the 1,029 students eligible to graduate in spring of 2020 from all four of UW-Green Bay’s campuses, the experience wasn’t what they had hoped to be the culminating event of their college career. While decision-makers held out as long as possible in hopes of hosting a traditional commencement, COVID-19 percentages failed to cooperate. An early-summer decision was made to transition to an experience that would limit in-person touches and protect members of the Phoenix family… and their families.

For more than 200 graduates and their families electing to participate, the mood was sincere, celebratory and joyful.

Parents didn’t miss an opportunity to yell thank you to Commencement personnel. Graduates interviewed by media said they had “no regrets,” in choosing UW-Green Bay, nor participating in the event the University was able to organize. This resilient group of grads, “revolutionary,” according to Student Commencement Speaker Jada Davis, have learned to make the best out of unpredictable situations. In March, instead of getting back to the basics after Spring Break, the students were told that they should return to campus only to gather their things and head home, because the pandemic was gaining ground in Wisconsin. Those who needed to remain in Residence Life were able, while all four campuses moved to complete virtual and alternative teaching and learning environments in little more than a week.

But today, each graduate was cheerfully welcomed back, with a care package, their diploma cover (diplomas were mailed this summer) and a photo with Chancellor Michael Alexander; while faculty, staff, administrators and other volunteers held up signs and cheered the passing cars along the drive-through route to the Phoenix Rising sculpture for a priceless photo with partners, children, parents and friends. Other stops for the informal photos included Residence Life, the Studio Arts alumni mural and the Shoe Tree.

Davis, who had pre-recorded her speech for release on Commencement Day, returned for the drive-thru experience before she heads off to Marquette Law School.

“What a time to be alive,” she said. “We are experiencing challenges personally, locally, nationally, globally, the likes of which only history has experienced for us. Just a few months ago we didn’t even know if we’d have the opportunity to share this moment together as everything seemed to fall through the cracks all at once.”

But, she says, “The time to rise from the ashes has never been more at hand! The many challenges we’ve faced during these unprecedented times are some which we will be able to reflect on. They have made us stronger and more adept to change. They have made us smarter and more creative. Whenever we face adversity in the future, we will be able to draw strength and knowledge from this time to get through. And for that, I am grateful.

We will be among the most resilient people in the world.

We are revolutionary.

We are the class of the year 2020.”

View her entire speech, here.


Commencement 2020 Drive-Thru

Nominate a Student Commencement Speaker by March 20

UW-Green Bay is seeking nominations for student speakers for the May 2020 commencement ceremonies. One student will be selected for each of the two ceremonies, representing one of the colleges participating in that particular ceremony:

  • Morning Ceremony (9:30 a.m.)
    • Austin E. Cofrin School of Business
    • College of Science, Engineering and Technology
  • Afternoon Ceremony (2 p.m.)
    • College of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences
    • College of Health, Education & Social Welfare

Please nominate one or more students for this honor. Nominees must be graduating in May or August. Please send your nominations to Claudia Guzmán, via e-mail (guzmanc@uwgb.edu) by Friday, March 20, 2020 and include the following information:

  1. Student’s Name
  2. Student’s College
  3. Student’s Major(s)/Minor(s)
  4. Cumulative GPA
  5. Postgraduate Plans
  6. Brief Description of Student’s Accomplishments
  7. Other Reasons Why This Student Should be Recognized
  8. The Names of All Faculty Who Support This Nomination

This is the minimum amount of information required to nominate a student.  Please feel free to provide as much additional information as you would like to support your nomination(s).

Thank you for your assistance with identifying potential students for this most special designation and honor. Your efforts are appreciated.

Changes coming for Spring 2020 Commencement

UW-Green Bay can expect changes to Commencement this spring. Interim Chancellor Sheryl Van Gruensven outlined the changes in a memo to the campus community this week.

“As we continue to grow as a University, we need to make adjustments to serve our students. An area that is impacted by our continual growth is Commencement. For a myriad of reasons, we will be expanding to two ceremonies of Saturday, May 16, 2020 in the Kress Events Center.”

Ceremony I: 9:30 a.m.

  • Austin E. Cofrin School of Business
  • College of Science, Engineering & Technology

Ceremony II: 2 p.m. 

  • College of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences
  • College of Health, Education & Social Welfare
  • All Associate Degrees from all four campuses

See the rationale, in the memo.