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LSU's Baton Rouge campus

Two weeks after calling it off, LSU reversed course Friday and announced the state’s flagship university is indeed holding an in-person commencement ceremony in December.

Tom Galligan, LSU's interim president, and Stacia Haynie, LSU's executive vice president & provost, announced the decision Friday afternoon "in light of the overwhelming feedback we have received in support of an in-person December commencement ceremony."

The revived in-person ceremony will be held Friday, Dec. 18 in Tiger Stadium, but the time of day is still to be determined. It will be open to fall graduates, as well as those who graduated in the spring and summer but were not given the chance to go to an in-person ceremony.

‘However, any 2020 graduates who do not feel safe attending this ceremony will have another opportunity to attend a commencement ceremony in the future,” Galligan and Haynie write. “And we will still have a virtual commencement celebration in December for those who do not feel comfortable attending the in-person ceremony.”

Friday’s announcement is much different than the announcement Galligan and Haynie made on Oct 23 when, among other things, they canceled the in-person fall commencement ceremony for a virtual-only commencement. They said at the time that the shift to a virtual-only commencement is based on the advice of public health experts seeking to limit post-Thanksgiving spread of the virus.

The university is taking several steps to make the in-person ceremony safer.

“In order to hold this event as safely as possible during the pandemic, we will hold it outdoors, rain or shine,” they write.

Another change is that the ceremony will be "contactless" in order to lessen the chance of viral spread.

The university leaders also say they reserve the right to change the plan once again if the coronavirus pandemic in Louisiana gets worse.

“We hope that won’t happen, but we intend to follow state and federal guidelines for everyone’s safety,” they write.

Here are other details about the revived fall commencement ceremony:

  • Each graduate is eligible for four tickets: one for themselves and one each for up to three guests.
  • Attendees need to socially distance and masks will be required at all times.
  • Instead of walking across the stage, graduates will stand in place briefly while their name is read aloud and they are displayed on the video screen.
  • There will be no printed commencement program.
  • Diplomas will be mailed later to graduates instead of handed out that day.
  • Attendance by LSU faculty and staff won’t be required and instead will be kept to a minimum. There will be no faculty procession.
  • No professional photographs will be taken during the ceremony. Instead, graduates need to go online and visit Sign-up Genius to schedule a time slot for photo shoots to be done on campus during two time windows: Nov. 12-13 and Nov. 16-17.
  • LSU graduates in 2020 need to complete the LSU Fall 2020 Graduation Celebration Form by Friday, Nov. 20.

Email Charles Lussier at clussier@theadvocate.com and follow him on Twitter, @Charles_Lussier.