Hillsdale College Holds Outdoor, In-Person Graduation Despite Warning from Michigan Attorney General

Hillsdale College attendees and guest wait in the infield of Frank “Muddy” Waters Stadium for Saturday’s outdoor commencement ceremony to begin on Saturday, July 18. (Photo: Sam Fry, Hillsdale Daily News)

Since 1856, Hillsdale College has held annual commencement exercises for its graduates, even during times of great uncertainty including the Civil War, World War I, the 1918 Flu Pandemic, the Great Depression and World War II. And despite the backdrop of the ongoing COVID-19 threat and objections from local health officials, this year proved to be no  different.

Over the weekend, Hillsdale College celebrated the accomplishments of the Class of 2020, which culminated in an outdoor commencement ceremony at Frank “Muddy” Waters Stadium on Saturday evening.

The ceremony took place in the infield, where hundreds of folding chairs sat 6 feet apart to comply with social distancing rules. A stage, equipped with large screens was set up at the North side of the field so graduates and their guests could view the speakers.

Attendees had their temperature screened upon arrival and were required to wear masks throughout the entire ceremony. A livestream of the commencement was available in prepared buildings on campus for those who wanted to spread out farther.

Dr. Tom Conner, a retired Hillsdale history professor, gave the commencement address.

News media was not permitted to attend the private ceremony. Hillsdale College administrators instructed seniors by email not to speak to the media.

The private, conservative college’s  hosted Saturday’s in-person graduation against the advice of local health officials, making it the first known postsecondary institution in the region to do so. The decision resulted in widespread media coverage and earned denunciations from major state officials.

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SOURCE: Detroit Free Press; Hillsdale Daily News, Sam Fry