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Winter Commencement to return to Sac State, with ceremonies at new on-campus event center

Sacramento State graduates celebrate during a Commencement ceremony on May 18. The University has announced it will return to holding Winter Commencement ceremonies this December for students who graduate after each fall semester. (Sacramento State/Andrea Price)

With a new event center set to open on campus in the coming months, Sacramento State is bringing back Winter Commencement ceremonies for students who graduate each December.

In addition, the University plans as part of this year’s Winter Commencement to hold a special ceremony for students whose in-person graduations were canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s the right thing to do for our students,” said Kristen Tudor, chief of staff for President Luke Wood.

Sac State’s last Winter Commencement was in December 2017. Since then, the University has held Commencement for all graduating students over three days in May at Golden 1 Center in downtown Sacramento.

This year’s winter ceremonies will take place on Saturday, Dec. 14 and Sunday, Dec. 15, at the new event center inside The WELL.

Wood said fall graduates who live outside of the region have made it clear that waiting until spring to participate in Commencement is often a hardship, as it requires traveling back to Sacramento.

“The December ceremony will celebrate academic achievements immediately after fall graduates complete their degrees and will allow families and other supporters to gather and recognize this major milestone without an extended delay,” he said.

Only students who graduate in the fall will attend Winter Commencement, with about 350 graduates eligible to take part in each of four ceremonies on Saturday and Sunday.  Students who graduate in summer or spring will attend spring ceremonies over two days in May at Golden 1 Center, which can accommodate a larger number of people.

More than 9,700 graduates received their degrees across a total of seven ceremonies during Commencement earlier this month.

The new event center, scheduled to be completed in the fall, will provide another use for existing space that currently has four intramural sports courts. Those courts and their recreational use will remain, but they will be flanked by retractable seating that can be rolled out to accommodate larger crowds.

New lighting, scoreboards, video boards and a public address system will also be added to the space.

The special graduation ceremony will recognize those who graduated during the COVID-19 pandemic and were unable to cross the stage to receive their diplomas because of public health restrictions.

“We want take the time to honor and celebrate them, and make sure they know we are proud of them,” Wood said.

Wood said the pivot back to Winter Commencement and the ceremony for those who graduated during COVID-19 are “part of our commitment to an exceptional student experience at Sacramento State.”

“We look forward to making mid-year Commencement a special occasion that graduates will cherish,” he said.

More information will be posted at as it becomes available.

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About Cynthia Hubert

Cynthia Hubert came to Sacramento State in November 2018 after an award-winning career writing for the Sacramento Bee. Cynthia believes everyone has a good story. She lives in East Sacramento with her two cats, who enjoy bird-watching from their perch next to the living-room window.

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