Commencement Season Features Both Virtual and In-Person Events

Updated 12:45 p.m. May 12: The cap for each in-person commencement processional has been increased to 400 students.

This year’s commencement season at the University of California, Davis, will feature more options for students and their families than ever, with both virtual and limited-scale, in-person events.

Rob Bonta

The School of Law will kick things off with an in-person photo opportunity for families Friday (May 14) at King Hall, followed the next morning by a virtual commencement featuring newly appointed state Attorney General Rob Bonta as the guest speaker. Bonta served in the state Assembly until being nominated by Gov. Gavin Newsom in March to replace Xavier Becerra, who is now secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Bonta was sworn in April 23 as the first Filipino American to ever hold the state attorney general’s office. Newsom described him as someone who “has been at the forefront of courageous fights for racial, economic and environmental justice from Day 1.”

Also addressing the law graduates at the virtual commencement will be Chancellor Gary S. May, Dean Kevin Johnson, Professor Jasmine E. Harris and Viktoriya Chebotarev, one of the graduates.

The virtual ceremony will mirror the usual commencement: Graduates in regalia will join a Zoom ceremony, will hear their names announced, and, if possible, be hooded, on camera, wherever they happen to be. The event will be streamed live on Facebook.

Next to come will be the School of Veterinary Medicine, which is hosting a limited-scale, in-person event Friday, May 21. No guests will be allowed, but the commencement will be livestreamed on the school’s website.

The School of Medicine will hold a virtual commencement the following day, Saturday, May 22.


  • School of Law — Saturday, May 15 (virtual).
  • School of Veterinary Medicine — Friday, May 21 (limited-scale, in-person).
  • School of Medicine — Saturday, May 22 (virtual).
  • School of Education — Wednesday, June 9 (virtual). Education graduates also are welcome to participate in Graduate Studies’ limited-scale, in-person event Thursday, June 10.
  • Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing — Thursday, June 10 (virtual). Nursing graduates also are welcome to  participate in Graduate Studies’ limited-scale, in-person event the same day.
  • Graduate Studies — Thursday, June 10 (limited-scale, in-person); and Friday, June 11 (virtual).
  • Undergraduates — Friday-Sunday, June 11-13 (limited-scale, in-person); and Friday, June 11 (virtual).
  • Graduate School of Management — Friday, June 11 (limited-scale, in-person); and Saturday, June 12 (virtual).

Numerous small events in June

Students wearing face coverings celebrate near Lake Spafford.
Undergraduate students can celebrate with limited-scale, in-person commencement processionals this year, but they must still follow coronavirus safety measures. (Karin Higgins/UC Davis)


Last year, thousands of undergraduate students celebrated their graduation with a virtual commencement. This year, they can choose a virtual ceremony, an in-person processional or both.

Students who choose the virtual event, Friday, June 11, can watch interviews with prominent alumni, hear congratulatory remarks from Chancellor May, watch a video honoring the university’s top graduating senior and watch a performance by the UC Davis Marching Band.

Multiple in-person processionals will be held Friday, Saturday and Sunday, June 11-13. There will be no speakers, no formal program, but the students will walk across a stage to hear their names read aloud — with their two guests and campus leaders making up a small audience, and professional photographers capturing every graduate. That stage was originally planned for Hutchison Field, but latest plans have it inside The Pavilion.

Other attractions at the event will be on Hutchison Field, including a tent with photo opportunities and another tent organized by the Cal Aggie Alumni Association to celebrate the grads’ new alumni status.

About 4,700 undergraduates had RSVP’d for the in-person processionals as of the deadline last week. Under current coronavirus restrictions, the cap for each processional is set at 400 students (it had previously been limited to 300), so about five events will be held each of three commencement days.

Graduate Studies will host a similar in-person event on Thursday, June 10, and students from the School of Education and the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing are also invited to participate. They will each also host separate virtual ceremonies: the School of Education on June 9, the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing on June 10 and Graduate Studies on June 11. The Graduate School of Management will host an in-person event Friday, June 11 and a virtual celebration June 12.

And while students celebrate their achievements, they’ll be asked to keep one another and the wider community safe by following a few simple rules. Each guest must bring their completed COVID-19 vaccination card to the event, while students will have the option of showing proof of a completed COVID-19 vaccination or a negative test result for COVID-19 from the previous 72 hours. Any student traveling from outside California must show proof of vaccination.

More information is available on the UC Davis Commencement website, including a link to register for the virtual undergraduate commencement and downloadable materials to help students and families celebrate. Information on creating a slide — which is required for both the in-person and virtual undergraduate events — will be added to that website soon.

Media Resources

Cody Kitaura is a News and Media Relations Specialist in the Office of Strategic Communications, and can be reached by email or at 530-752-1932.

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