Washington State University and the University of Idaho hosted parallel winter commencement ceremonies Saturday, virtual events where students were invited to submit pictures, a short statement or even a video clip that would be included in a final video.

The commencement videos for both universities were created through a company called StageClip that specializes in virtual commencement ceremonies.

WSU spokesman Phil Weiler said one major advantage of the service was it allowed the university to extend participation to students throughout the WSU system. Even with the ability to invite students from other WSU locations to participate, Weiler said around 750 students received their degrees over the weekend — about 100 fewer than is typical for a winter commencement.

He said a novel aspect of the virtual event that students appeared to enjoy was the ability to personalize the part of the ceremony where their name was called.

“You get your name, you get your degree (and) you can submit photos, you can submit your own quote, and you can even submit video clips if you want to,” Weiler said. “All of that is in a package that you can then share with family members — just like in a face-to-face commencement where mom and dad might take pictures and then send them to family members.”

Weiler said as it is unlikely a vaccine for COVID-19 will be widely available by May, WSU will probably conduct its spring 2021 commencement ceremonies virtually as well.

In his opening remarks for UI’s ceremony, President Scott Green congratulated the more than 500 graduates on finishing their degrees in a year overshadowed by a global pandemic and lauded them for completing a semester of mostly in-person instruction without significantly raising local infection rates.

“Today’s graduation ceremony may be different from the many that came before it, but know that your effort is recognized,” Green said. “Your road has been tougher than most (but) you kept up your studies, completed your research, finished your projects — all while showing a commitment to the health and safety of yourself and your community.”

Lauren Carlsen, UI student body president, echoed Green’s remarks, saying completing a degree in these historic times took a measure of dedication that will serve them well in the future.

“You all have shown what it means to be a Vandal, what it means to lift your head up high and succeed even in the toughest of situations, to take what life hands you and make it a life worth living — and even manage to have fun while doing it,” she said. “I hope you know how many of us can see this in you, how dedicated you are, and the time and energy you put into yourself, your goals and the world around you.”

Virtual commencement ceremonies for the UI and WSU can be viewed online at uidaho.stageclip.com/ and at wsu.stageclip.com/.

Scott Jackson can be reached at (208) 883-4636, or by email to sjackson@dnews.com.

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