Commencement Amid Coronavirus

‘Commencement-in-a-Box’ a Personalized Greeting and Six Student Videos Among Virtual Graduation Launching May 9 at 6AM

Stacks of printed purple and gold branded boxes used for commencement-in-a-box mailings
About 2,200 Commencement-in-a-Box mailings were ready for assembly and mailing to graduates. The boxes were delivered prior to the Saturday, May 9, virtual commencement as an alternative to normal ceremonies canceled due to COVID-19.

Posted May 7, 2020, from University Media Relations news release


The stage would have been set and the floor of Bresnan Arena at Minnesota State University, Mankato filled with chairs reserved for graduates at three different commencement exercises originally planned for Saturday, May 9.

COVID-19 left the campus empty and the arena bare. But that’s not stopping the sentiment of pride supporting the academic achievement of 2,200 graduates.

When it became evident that the coronavirus would halt actual May 9 commencement plans, the University quickly set into motion an alternative plan in this time of virtual gatherings.

What resulted for celebrating 2020 Spring Commencement was sending graduates “commencement-in-a-box” packages and creating a special website,, that will launch Saturday, May 9 at 6 a.m.

All spring graduates will be emailed a uniquely designed personalized URL video at 10 a.m. on Saturday.

A series of website videos will feature University President Richard Davenport and six students from their respective colleges. Pre-recorded student commencement speeches will be delivered by: 

  • Holly Dodge, North Mankato, Minnesota, College of Arts and Humanities
  • Mesoma Akaolisa, Nigeria, College of Science, Engineering and Technology
  • Matthew Schiffmann, Omaha, Nebraska, College of Allied Health and Nursing
  • Shealyn Kawlewski, North Mankato, Minnesota, College of Education
  • Maggie Knier, Big Lake, Minnesota, College of Business
  • Sussana Machinga, Zimbabwe, College of Social and Behavioral Sciences.

A online graduation photo gallery will feature shared photos that graduates, faculty and staff tag with #MavGrad2020.

“We’re disappointed that we’re not able to hold commencement ceremonies this spring,” said President Davenport. “Commencement ceremonies are a tradition that can’t be replaced. But it is our hope that the special gift boxes, videos and website we have put together will show our graduates how special they are, and that we are thinking of them on this momentous day in their lives.”

President Davenport added that all spring graduates are invited to return and walk at Fall 2020 commencement ceremonies in December.

The “commencement-in-a-box” packages shipped this week to graduates feature purple-and-gold branded boxes containing a diploma cover, two commencement programs, two small branded gifts and a personalized note from President Davenport.

The website will include the names of each graduate and a graduation photo gallery where photos will be shared that graduates, faculty and staff tag with #MavGrad2020.


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