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A behind-the-scenes look at Purdue's on-demand commencement

The December commencement will honor nearly 3,000 graduates. The on-demand commencement video will be available to graduates beginning Dec. 7.

Posted: Nov 16, 2020 3:38 PM
Updated: Nov 16, 2020 6:29 PM

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) - Purdue University for the third time this year will host a virtual, on-demand commencement ceremony.

The December ceremony will honor nearly 3,000 graduates. The on-demand commencement video will be available to graduates beginning Dec. 7.

Purdue offered News 18 a behind-the-scenes look at the production of the virtual commencement. 

Purdue retiree Mike Piggott, former director of community relations, has read the names of graduates in more than 100 commencement ceremonies.

He's now recording the names in a small audio booth in the basement of Stewart Center. 

"Fortunately, when you're recording (the names), if I make a mistake that I know of, we can fix it," Piggott says. "We call it 'fix it in post.'"

Tyler Rogers, assistant technical coordinator at Purdue, would normally be gearing up for a big event at Elliott Hall of Music.

"Elliott is a big space, we have a lot of gear that goes into Elliott, where here, it's just a couple of computers and a microphone," Rogers says.  

College of Pharmacy Dean Eric Barker donned his full regalia in front of cameras on stage of Loeb Playhosue as he was recorded presenting his graduates for their degrees.

"It may look like a lot of commitment and work on our part to do little things but I think it's the little things that make the whole process special," Barker says. 

Graduation and academic record manager Stephanie Bosgraaf has helped assemble thousands of commencement boxes, which include diploma covers, graduation programs and alumni license plate covers.

"We've gotten really good feedback on the boxes," Bosgraaf says. "I think it's been a tough year for everybody and this is something small and special we can do for the graduates."

Purdue senior Amber Fystro says she plans to enjoy the on-demand ceremony from the comfort of her living room.

"While it is a bummer that I'm not going to be able to walk, I'll accept that fact," Fystro says. "I'm OK with it. I think it's a good idea that's necessary."

Purdue is encouraging students to host watch parties and use the hashtag #PurdueWeDidIt. The university also wants the on-demand ceremony to be as realistic as possible, encouraging graduates to wear graduation attire and have someone hand them their degree when their name is called.

More information about the on-demand ceremony is available on the Purdue December 2020 commencement website

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