UW News

June 3, 2021

Anticipation builds for UW’s 146th commencement, to be held virtually

UW News


Drumheller Fountain is turning purple.

The iconic University of Washington landmark will be illuminated in the school’s signature color from dusk to dawn as the anticipation builds for the commencement ceremonies scheduled for the weekend of June 12 and 13.

The special accent lighting is just one of many features the UW is adding to its already beautiful campus to provide graduates opportunities to pose for photos with family and friends. Special banners will hang on Suzzallo Library and the HUB, among other locations. Sidewalks in the Quad and along Rainier Vista will be decorated and 4-foot-tall block Ws will be strategically placed making already terrific photo ops even better.

“Commencement is our most momentous celebration of the year, and we wanted to find a way to honor the extraordinary trials, resilience and achievements of our 2021 graduating class while being mindful of an ever-evolving public health situation. And so, we have decided to transform the campus itself into a celebration for our graduates and their families to enjoy, each in their own way and per their own comfort level,” said Denzil Suite, UW Vice President for Student Life.

Events culminate this year with the UW’s second virtual commencement, with the Seattle event beginning at noon on June 12, at 10 a.m. June 12 in Tacoma and at 1 p.m. June 13 in Bothell.

The online ceremony, the second in the school’s 161-year history, celebrates the class of 2021. People from across the globe are expected to participate from more than 30 countries. Translation will be provided in nine languages. UW President Ana Mari Cauce will preside as nearly 18,300 degrees will be conferred.

“Our graduates and their loved ones have so much to be proud of as they mark this milestone. Their determination and resilience throughout the pandemic have been inspiring, and we are all excited to see what this extraordinary class will do as Husky alumni,” Cauce said.

Jane Lubchenco, who is serving as Deputy Director for Climate and Environment in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy in the Biden Administration, will be the featured speaker. Lubchenco, who earned a master’s degree in zoology at the UW in 1971, also served in the Obama Administration as head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere. She is a renowned marine biologist and serves on the faculty at Oregon State University.

“We are very proud to count Dr. Lubchenco among our alumnae and delighted that she will be this year’s commencement speaker. As a scientist and policy expert, she exemplifies what is possible for our graduates to aspire to, and as we look toward a more hopeful future, her optimism and conviction make her the ideal person to share her experience and perspective,” Cauce said.

There’s much to celebrate at this year’s commencement. According to preliminary data to be presented to the Board of Regents next week:

  • For work completed at the Seattle campus, a projected 14,123 degrees will be conferred, specifically: 8,327 bachelor’s degrees, 4,320 master’s degrees, 619 professional degrees, 11 educational specialist degrees, and 846 doctoral degrees.
  • At UW Bothell, a projected 2,107 degrees will be conferred, including 1,877 bachelor’s degrees and 230 master’s degrees. This is UW Bothell’s 30th Commencement ceremony and its largest graduating class. The virtual ceremony will be preceded by a hooding ceremony for graduate students on June 12.
  • And at UW Tacoma students will receive a projected 2,067 degrees, including 1,626 bachelor’s degrees, 423 master’s degrees, and 18 doctoral degrees. A special drive-through celebration is planned for June 11 at the Washington State Fairgrounds.

Degrees are awarded to those who have completed academic requirements during the 2020-2021 academic year.

Members of the Board of Regents, deans and other representatives of the university’s 16 colleges and schools will participate in the ceremony. Many colleges and schools also have separate graduation programs and investiture ceremonies.

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