Cross the Quad: Five Things to Know About Spring 2021 Commencement

February 8, 2021

CU Denver is thrilled to announce a new format for spring 2021 commencement that involves both a virtual ceremony and the opportunity to receive diplomas during a small in-person event, coined “Cross the Quad.” Graduates may sign up for a time block the week of May 17, during which they will cross a stage, pick up their diplomas, and have professional photos taken. The goal is to minimize the length of time graduates are on campus and decrease the number of touchpoints while providing a meaningful in-person opportunity.

“We know the symbolic crossing of the stage and the professional photography are the pieces we have not been able to provide in the virtual ceremony, and we want to make sure that is available to the students who want it,” said Kelly Mason, assistant director of University Events. “Our goal is to create opportunities that offer equitable access for all.”

Students are invited to participate in the May 15 virtual ceremony, similar to those that took place in spring and fall of 2020. Or, they can participate in both.

“This year’s spring celebration will look different than what we are used to,” Chancellor Michelle Marks said in a video announcing the new format. “But our pride in your accomplishment is unwavering. I can’t wait to join you to celebrate.”

Read on to learn five things about this spring’s innovative commencement celebration.

New “Cross the Quad” and/or Virtual Option

Cross the Quad will take place the week of May 17 on the Tivoli Quad to maximize air ventilation. Participation will be limited based on state guidelines in place at the time of the activity, so graduates must pre-register for a specific time slot. Graduates will be required to complete a health check-in and temperature check prior to entry. 

As they cross the stage, graduates will pick up their diploma cover and may temporarily take off their masks for professional photographs. Cross the Quad is exclusively for spring 2021 graduates and students who graduated in 2020 who would like to participate in an in-person celebration.

All spring 2021 graduates will also be included in the virtual celebration, which will feature graduate-submitted photos and expressions of gratitude. This will be a recorded video—not on Zoom—similar to the format of the spring and fall 2020 virtual commencements. Graduates who register to participate will have their names announced when the ceremony premieres on May 15. 

You Must Register Ahead of Time

Registration for the in-person and virtual celebrations will launch by the first week of March. Graduates must register by April 20 to participate in Cross the Quad. Graduates are encouraged to check the commencement website for updates.

Regalia Rental and Celebration Kits

Cap and gown rental packages are available to order online and will be shipped directly to graduates’ homes. Caps and tassels may be kept as a keepsake, however gowns and hoods must be returned using an included shipping label. Order by April 1 to ensure arrival by Cross the Quad the week of May 17. 

Herff Jones, CU Denver’s commencement partner, also offers several options for purchasing announcements, diploma frames, class rings, souvenir tassels, and more.

Graduates can request a complimentary celebration kit by confirming their shipping address when registering for the virtual celebration, or they can pick one up at Cross the Quad. Kits will include diploma covers, alumni t-shirts, honor cords, and other commemorative items. Early orders are highly encouraged as kits will begin shipping to virtual participants in mid-March. 

All Guests Must Watch Virtually 

No guests will be permitted to attend Cross the Quad, but the activity will be livestreamed for loved ones to watch their graduate cross the stage. Due to strict capacity restrictions and event safety guidelines, bringing guests to the event could result in the graduate being denied participating in Cross the Quad or cancellation of the event.

Future In-Person Celebrations

All 2020 and 2021 graduates who have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic can participate in any future in-person commencement ceremony once large gatherings are safe and permitted. Graduates who wish to participate in an in-person ceremony can register on the commencement website during the semester which they would like to participate.