IUP Staging In-person Commencement Ceremonies on May 7, 8

Posted on 5/3/21 7:25 PM

IUP will hold in-person commencement ceremonies for 1,720 students at ceremonies May 7 and 8 at the Kovalchick Convention and Athletic Complex. Students graduating in May and August are eligible to participate in the ceremonies.

In order to follow health and safety guidelines due to the coronavirus pandemic, there will be four ceremonies for graduates: the graduate ceremony (for students receiving master's and doctoral degrees) on May 7 at 7:00 p.m.; and three undergraduate degree ceremonies on May 8 at 8:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m.

Social distancing recommendations will be followed, and face coverings are required. Masks and hand sanitizer will be available at the door of the facility. Full cleaning and sanitation of the commencement ceremony area will take place between each ceremony.

“The Commencement Committee has done an incredible job in their thinking and planning, balancing health and safety concerns with a desire to provide an in-person recognition of our graduates,” IUP President Michael Driscoll said. “Graduates and families have been very clear with their preference for an in-person event.

“Following the advice of the Centers for Disease Control and the Pennsylvania Department of Health, we just couldn't take the risk of in-person ceremonies in May and December 2020. I want to thank the graduates and families who understood our decision, and I also want to recognize the Commencement Committee, the speakers, the virtual platform party, and the Marketing and Communications Division who worked to create virtual commencement ceremonies to honor our graduates.

“Commencement is a very special time for our university. It's very important to our graduates and their families, and it's also a highlight for everyone here who has watched our students work hard to achieve this important goal. I want to thank everyone involved in the planning and staging of these ceremonies, including the team at the Kovalchick Complex who will be cleaning and sanitizing the facility between ceremonies to keep our graduates, our families, and our employees safe and well.”

The ceremonies will be broadcast live on the university's YouTube channel; links to the broadcasts are available on the IUP Commencement website. After the event, the video recorded during the livestream will be available to watch anytime. Each webcast will begin 15 minutes before the actual start of the ceremonies.

In recognition of students unable to attend the ceremonies due to health concerns, these students are invited to submit information and photographs for a virtual ceremony honoring them. This video will be posted to the IUP website on May 22.

All graduates, regardless of attendance at the ceremony, will be listed in the printed program.

The undergraduate ceremony at 8:30 a.m. is for students in the College of Education and Communications, College of Fine Arts, and College of Humanities and Social Sciences. The ceremony at 12:30 p.m. is for students from the Eberly College of Business and Information Technology and John J. and Char Kopchick College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics. The ceremony at 4:30 p.m. is for students from the College of Health and Human Services.

Of the invitations to students to receive degrees at the May ceremonies, there are 1,317 bachelor's degrees, 331 master's degrees, 67 doctoral degrees, and five associate degrees. Of the bachelor's degree applicants, 745 qualify for Latin honors with a grade-point average of 3.25 or above.

The total number of graduates by college is 239 from the Eberly College of Business and Information Technology; 166 from the College of Education and Communications; 68 from the College of Fine Arts; 493 from the College of Health and Human Services; 142 from the College of Humanities and Social Sciences; 209 from the Kopchick College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics; and 398 from the School of Graduate Studies and Research.

President Driscoll will preside over all of the ceremonies. All students participating in May commencement ceremonies will be recognized by name and will walk across the stage. John Simpson, a 1979 IUP graduate and president of the IUP Alumni Association Board of Directors, will offer greetings from the Alumni Association.

Alexa Zacek, a psychology major graduate from Paxinos, will present the Senior Class Gift during the three undergraduate ceremonies. A total of 247 graduates, honored with the crimson and gray philanthropy cords, contributed $6,285 to the Senior Class Gift.

The May 7 graduate ceremony speaker is Jennifer Chicca, who is receiving her PhD in nursing. Chicca is from Anne Arundel County, Maryland. She received her bachelor of science in nursing in 2009 from Salisbury University and her master of nursing degree from the University of Maryland in 2014. At IUP, she was selected for the Julius P. Filcik Doctoral Fellowship, the Student Scholars Activity Grant, the Dean's Award for Excellence, the Graduate Student Outstanding Research Award, and the Phi Kappa Phi Award.

There will be two student speakers for the 8:30 a.m. ceremony on May 8, both from the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. They are Maddison Hendricks, from Sodus, New York, who has earned both a bachelor of science in education, music education, and a bachelor of science in education, Spanish education; and Khala Vines, from Duncansville, who earned a bachelor of arts degree in international studies.

Hendricks, a member of the Cook Honors College, is graduating with a perfect 4.0 grade point average. At IUP, she was selected as a nominee for the Ali Zaidi Award IUP finalist. This award, given to one graduating senior from the 14 Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education universities, recognizes academic excellence. She was also a finalist for the Fulbright English Teaching Assistant.

She was a member of the Pennsylvania Collegiate Music Educators Association, Andale Spanish Club, National Society for Leadership and Success, and served as an English conversation partner and University College fine arts peer mentor. She also volunteered at the Indiana County Humane Society. A 2016 graduate of Sodus Junior Senior High School, Hendricks is the daughter of William “Bill” Hendricks and Nancy Hendricks.

Vines was a Board of Governors Scholar and was selected for a David L. Boren Scholarship, a Benjamin A. Gilman Award, and a Freeman-ASIA Scholarship. She was a dean's list student and provost scholar and completed her studies in three years. She is an early admissions student for the IUP's Human Resources and Employment Relations master's degree program.

She was a member of Gamma Sigma Sigma service sorority, the IUP Ambassadors student-alumni association, was president of the IUP Political Leadership Society, and was a Welcome Weekend leader. She is the daughter of Kylene Schneider and granddaughter of Thomas and Kathy Weibley. She is a 2018 graduate of Hollidaysburg Area Senior High School.

Arie Van Wieren, of Indiana, from the Kopchick College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics and the Cook Honors College who will receive a bachelor of science degree in biochemistry, will be the student speaker for the 12:30 p.m. ceremony on May 8. Van Wieren is graduating with a perfect 4.0 grade point average.

Van Wieren won a Goldwater Scholarship in 2020 and was IUP's 2020 Kopchick Fellow, which funds a student during a 10-week experience at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. He was selected as IUP's finalist for the Ali-Zaidi Award.

He has several research articles published while an undergraduate student and presented his research at conferences around the country. He was the first student at IUP to be an invited presenter for Harvard University's National Collegiate Research Conference. He has received funding to participate in IUP's Research Experience for Summer Scholars, won the American Chemical Society's Student Symposium Outstanding Poster Presentation award, and was president of the American Chemical Society student chapter at IUP. Van Wieren volunteers as a peer mentor and math tutor and has been a volunteer at the Chevy Chase Community Center soup kitchen.

A graduate of Indiana Area Senior High School, he is the son of Todd and Jennifer Van Wieren.

The student speaker for the 4:30 p.m. ceremony on May 8 is Abigail Baczynski from the College of Health and Human Services, who has earned her bachelor of science degree in hospitality management.

From Chesapeake Beach, Maryland, Baczynski was a dean's list student and provost scholar. She received the Laura Mateer Scholarship at IUP and was a member of the IUP Dance Explosion and Meeting Professionals International. She also participated in a study abroad experience.

She is the daughter of Leslie Baczynski and Robert Baczynski II and is a 2017 graduate of Huntingtown High School.

A total of 53 undergraduates completing studies in May and August had a perfect 4.0 grade point average. Their names will be included in the printed program.

Because of concerns related to the pandemic, there will not be a faculty processional for the ceremonies. Invitations to faculty to attend the commencement ceremonies were sent to the colleges earlier this month; faculty who have tickets will be in guest seating in the arena.

Tickets are required for those attending both the undergraduate and graduate commencement ceremonies, as seating is arranged to meet Pennsylvania Department of Health capacity and social distancing recommendations.

Due to health and safety concerns related to the coronavirus pandemic, there are no individual in-person departmental commencement ceremonies.

Designated parking lots near the ceremonies and across the IUP campus will be used for commencement parking at no charge. Parking attendants will direct drivers to available lots and parking spaces in the area.

Complimentary shuttle bus service will be available from 5:30 to 11:00 p.m. on May 7 and from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. on May 8 to provide transportation from and to the public parking areas.

A parking and shuttle map is available on the Commencement website.

Guests who require handicapped (ADA) accessible parking may park in the lot directly in front of the Kovalchick Complex or directly west of the facility; parking attendants on-site will direct drivers to the available spaces in the area. A disability parking placard is required to park in these areas; drivers are asked to have this placard displayed when arriving on campus.

For the safety of IUP guests and to maintain traffic flow, stopping and drop-off is prohibited along Pratt Drive. Limited accessibility drop-off is permitted in the drive-through circle directly in front of the Kovalchick Complex. Persons who have difficulty walking extended distances are asked to use the Indigo shuttle service available in each primary parking lot.

For questions about commencement parking, call the IUP Parking and Visitors Services office at 724-357-8748.