Pre-Recorded Virtual Commencements Planned for Spring 2021; Residential Campus Students Also Offered Stage-Walk Opportunities, in Full Regalia

a graduation cap

For its spring 2021 commencements, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University is taking a blended approach that preserves the best elements of traditional graduation ceremonies while also leveraging technology to keep everyone as safe as possible.

Pre-recorded virtual (online) commencements for Embry-Riddle’s residential campuses will feature keynote speaker Dr. Ellen Stofan, the John and Adrienne Mars Director of the National Air and Space Museum. Embry-Riddle Worldwide’s virtual commencement will feature keynote speaker Colonel (Ret.) Mark W. Tillman, whose distinguished career spanned 30 years in the United States Air Force and included service as commander of Air Force One in 2001.

All graduates will be individually recognized during pre-recorded virtual commencements celebrating the remarkably resilient Class of 2021, across all three of Embry-Riddle’s campuses. The virtual commencements will be posted online by these times:

  • Prescott, Arizona – Saturday, May 8, 9 a.m. MST (all graduates)
  • Daytona Beach, Florida – Monday, May 10, 10 a.m. EDT (undergraduate students) and 3:00 pm EDT (graduate students)
  • Worldwide Campus – Saturday, June 5, 1 p.m. EDT (all graduates)

In addition to virtual commencements, all residential campus students (on or off campus) who have persevered and succeeded against all odds, despite the historic pandemic, will still be able to walk across graduation stages as their name is read during separate celebratory stage-walk events.

All graduates enrolled at the residential campuses, whether they live on or off campus, will be invited to walk across the stage as their classmates and faculty mentors, in full regalia, applaud and cheer them on. Professional photographs and video will be taken and posted online so that graduates can share their special moment later with family and friends. All Covid-19 safety protocols will be in place. To limit group sizes, family members and others outside of the Embry-Riddle community will not be able to attend the stage-walk events.

We recognize that commencement is an important milestone for graduates and their families. Parents who have supported their student’s academic efforts understandably want to celebrate commencement in person, as a family. For those family members – we understand. We wish it could be different. It is deeply disappointing whenever the pandemic, now in its second year, continues to keep us apart.


Will graduates and families have a chance to share the traditional commencement experience together sometime later?

Embry-Riddle is looking into options for a face-to-face make-up event, to include graduates as well as their families, pandemic conditions permitting. If feasible, a make-up event may take place in the fall.

Why couldn’t Embry-Riddle host traditional commencements at large venues or outdoors?

We cannot facilitate a gathering for thousands of people – and be responsible for everyone’s safety before, during, and after the events – amid an unprecedented global pandemic.

We further have a responsibility, as an aviation and aerospace university with a strong focus on safety, to minimize public health risks associated with travel.

Why make the commencement decision now? Why not wait until later?

Organizing events for thousands of attendees requires months of advance planning. Although Covid-19 infection rates are currently declining and vaccinations rates are rising, variants of the virus are also spreading rapidly. We cannot predict today what the pandemic will be doing in May, or what local government restrictions will be in place.

As of today (Feb. 25, 2021), very few, if any, students have been vaccinated, and an insufficient number of faculty and staff have been vaccinated at our three campuses.

Where will I find links to the virtual commencements?

More detailed information about virtual commencement ceremonies will be posted soon to our graduation websites, linked below:

An additional announcement will be issued as soon as all details are posted to the graduation websites.

How will residential campus graduates learn about the stage-walk opportunities?

We will reach out to all graduating seniors directly, to let them know where to go, when, and what to expect before, during and after the celebratory stage-walk events for students on both residential campuses.

Will Worldwide Campus students be able to take part in the stage-walk events?

Worldwide Campus graduates who would have participated in the commencement ceremonies in Daytona Beach and Pensacola, Florida will be celebrated with a virtual commencement.

The stage-walk events are for residential campus students, whether they are living on or off campus, who have already been together, living together and/or taking classes together on campus. For safety reasons, we must minimize the number of visitors coming to our Prescott and Daytona Beach campuses. Please refer to the Worldwide Campus Graduations website for information about future in-person commencement ceremonies.

Posted In: Institutional News