UNC System President Peter Hans to deliver ECU commencement keynote address

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East Carolina University will host three in-person commencement ceremonies Friday, May 7 at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium to celebrate the spring Class of 2021 and the Class of 2020. University of North Carolina System President Peter Hans will deliver the keynote address to about 4,000 spring graduates.

Ceremonies at 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. will recognize undergraduate students and be grouped by colleges to accommodate the number of graduates and guests. A 5 p.m. ceremony will celebrate ECU’s graduate and professional students.

“We are happy to recognize the accomplishments of our graduates in person this spring. They have overcome so many obstacles to get to this moment and they deserve to celebrate. I am also grateful to our faculty and staff who worked hard during the last several months to plan safe, in-person options,” said ECU Chancellor Philip Rogers.

Hans was a first-generation college student and grew up in the small North Carolina towns of Hendersonville and Southport. He completed his undergraduate studies at UNC-Chapel Hill and earned a master’s degree in extension studies from Harvard University.

Ceremonies at 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. will recognize undergraduate students and be grouped by colleges to accommodate the number of graduates and guests. A 5 p.m. ceremony will celebrate ECU’s graduate and professional students.

“We are happy to recognize the accomplishments of our graduates in person this spring. They have overcome so many obstacles to get to this moment and they deserve to celebrate. I am also grateful to our faculty and staff who worked hard during the last several months to plan safe, in-person options,” said ECU Chancellor Philip Rogers.

Hans was a first-generation college student and grew up in the small North Carolina towns of Hendersonville and Southport. He completed his undergraduate studies at UNC-Chapel Hill and earned a master’s degree in extension studies from Harvard University.

Prior to his election as UNC System president in 2020, he served as the ninth president of the North Carolina Community College System. During his tenure, the system increased visibility, enrollment, completion rates, public funding, private support, and business partnerships.

Hans served on the State Board of Community Colleges and the UNC Board of Governors where he was chosen by peers for leadership roles and fought for streamlining the transfer of student credits. He served previously as a senior policy advisor to three U.S. senators, counseled the private sector on public affairs at one of the state’s largest law firms, and supported former UNC System President Margaret Spellings on key initiatives.

Ceremony and guest information

To comply with current mass gathering requirements, ceremonies have been divided by the college to accommodate the number of students who completed the RSVP forms. A Livestream of the event will be available to students and their families who are unable to attend or choose not to attend the in-person celebration.

The 9 a.m. undergraduate ceremony includes the colleges of Education, Engineering and Technology, Fine Arts and Communication, and Health and Human Performance.

Colleges participating in the 1 p.m. undergraduate ceremony include the College of Allied Health Science, Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences, College of Business, and College of Nursing.

The 5 p.m. ceremony celebrates graduate and professional students from all ECU degree-awarding colleges for master’s, doctoral and professional degrees. 

Each Class of 2021 graduate who completed the RSVP form before the deadline will receive four guest tickets to attend the in-person ceremony. Class of 2021 graduates will sit on the field and will not require a ticket for entry.

Class of 2020 graduates who completed the RSVP form prior to the deadline will receive five tickets for the in-person ceremony. Each 2020 graduate will be seated with up to four guests in a special section of Dowdy-Ficklen and will require a ticket for entry. 

On Friday, April 16, ticket information will be sent to all 2020 and 2021 graduates who met the RSVP deadline. The ticket information will be sent to the email address used in the RSVP form.

Guest tickets can be printed or displayed on a mobile device and will be required for entry into the stadium. Any guest without a ticket will not be permitted to enter. All tickets are for one-time use assigned to each graduate and can’t be duplicated, copied, or transferred to another graduate. 

All guest tickets will be placed in four-person pods throughout the lower sections of the stadium. Guests must remain in their pods to maintain social distancing protocols, which will be monitored by staff on site. Graduates and their guests will be required to wear a mask while inside the stadium. Children 2 years of age and younger will not need a ticket for entry but must sit on the lap of one of the four guests in their assigned pod. 

Additional information and details about the ceremonies, tickets, and safety protocols will be shared on the ECU commencement website in the days and weeks leading up to May 7. The website includes graduate and guest information as well as lists of frequently asked questions.

The university intends to host the ceremonies rain or shine, but circumstances such as new COVID-19 restrictions or severe weather could require the event to be canceled.

For other commencement-related questions contact commencement@ecu.edu. For graduates or guests that require ADA accommodations, contact ECU Disability Support Services at 252-737-1016. 

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