SMU to Host Outdoor Commencement at Ford Stadium Aug. 15


DALLAS (SMU) – SMU will honor the accomplishments of its 2020 graduates at a festive open-air Commencement Convocation at 8 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 15, in Ford Stadium. The University will celebrate the best of its historic traditions while meeting the unique health and safety needs inherent in the current environment.

The ceremony will be live-streamed, and graduating students unable to attend the event will receive a celebratory mailing that includes the diploma cover they would have received in the ceremony. Historic Dallas Hall, the oldest building on campus, will be open Saturday morning to allow graduates and their guests to join a self-paced recessional back through the Rotunda – a long-held SMU tradition – after the conclusion of the Commencement ceremony.

“We expect this to be a particularly joyful ceremony,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner.  “After the interruptions of the spring semester, we are all looking forward to gathering in person and virtually with our students and their families for an outdoor ceremony that carries all the pomp and circumstance we are known for. Our graduates have been waiting for this, and they deserve a big finish.”

Both graduating students and the platform party will be seated on the football field, arranged to maintain a healthy social distance between individuals. Guests will be seated in the stands, with family groups asked to space themselves to support social distancing.

Face coverings will be required of graduates and guests.  Specially-branded SMU Commencement face coverings will be provided for the students and their guests, and will serve double-duty as a unique graduation keepsake.

“This is a great way to bring us all together safely, and I’m grateful I arrived in time to help celebrate this moment,” said Elizabeth G. Loboa, who joined the University July 6 as SMU’s Provost and vice president for Academic Affairs. “We were determined and are very proud to be able to do this for our graduating students,” said Robert H. Dedman, Jr., chair of the SMU Board of Trustees. “I expect this will go down in our history as a very special class.”      

Jim Lentz, the former chief executive officer of Toyota Motor North America, will be the featured commencement speaker. SMU will honor Holocaust survivor and human rights educator Max Glauben with the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa, for his exceptional and extensive work combatting intolerance and for keeping the memory of the Holocaust alive.

“While we were sorry to postpone the ceremony we had planned for Moody Coliseum back in May, we feel fortunate that we have the option of offering a great event in Ford stadium that allows us to host our SMU family in a manner that is supported by current health guidelines,” said Brad Cheves, vice president for Development and External Affairs. “Our goal is to honor the graduates.”

SMU is the nationally ranked global research university in the dynamic city of Dallas.  SMU’s alumni, faculty and nearly 12,000 students in eight degree-granting schools demonstrate an entrepreneurial spirit as they lead change in their professions, communities and the world.