Behrend commencement program will honor new graduates and 2020 alumni

New graduates smile during a Penn State Behrend commencement program.

Penn State Behrend will award 660 degrees at the college’s spring commencement program on May 6.

Credit: Penn State Behrend

ERIE, Pa. — Penn State Behrend will award 660 degrees at the college’s spring commencement program on May 6. The ceremony, which will be held at Erie Insurance Arena, also will honor the college’s 2020 graduates, whose commencement events were virtual, due to the pandemic.

“Commencement is the most anticipated event of the academic year — one the entire Behrend community looks forward to as much as graduates and families do,” Chancellor Ralph Ford said. “We are eager to celebrate this milestone with our current candidates for graduation, and also with those whose in-person commencement was interrupted by a time of social distancing and isolation.”

Behrend’s spring 2021 commencement was held outdoors, at the college’s soccer stadium. This year’s program returns to its traditional venue, in downtown Erie.

Charisse Nixon, a professor of psychology, will give the commencement address. Her talk will focus on resilience.

Two Behrend students also will offer remarks: Dylan Free, president of the Student Government Association, will give the welcome address. He will receive a degree in physics. Jennifer Gustafson, a two-time recipient of the Thomas H. Turnbull Award for outstanding service, will give the farewell address. She will receive a degree in mechanical engineering.

The degree candidates for each academic school will be led into the arena by student marshals — the graduates with the highest grade-point average in each school: Joshua Claypoole, for the Black School of Business; Angela Laier, for the School of Science; Andria Rhodes, for the School of Humanities and Social Sciences; and Ashley Seamon, for the School of Engineering. Alicia Rensel will lead the procession for students in the Schreyer Scholars program.

The program will be livestreamed for those who cannot attend in person. For the link, and for additional details about the program, go to the Penn State Behrend commencement webpage.