Bemidji State Honors 2020 Beaver Grads Amidst Coronavirus

BSU Grads

BSU graduates march into the Sanford Center for the university’s 97th commencement ceremony on Friday. (Jillian Gandsey | Bemidji Pioneer)

More than 1,000 students will receive undergraduate and graduate degrees from Bemidji State University on Friday, May 8. While a formal commencement ceremony will be planned for a later date due to the COVID-19 pandemic, virtual celebrations will acknowledge graduates and mark the end of the Spring 2020 semester.

Honoring feedback from seniors indicating that most graduating students preferred to postpone the formal commencement ceremony over a fully virtual ceremony, Bemidji State will hold a brief graduate recognition May 8 at 5 p.m. on Zoom. The event is open to all students, families and university representatives and will include messages from President Faith C. Hensrud, Acting Provost Allen Bedford, Student Body President Matthew Sauser, academic deans and more.

“The Class of 2020 embodies the very best of Bemidji State University,” Travis Greene, associate vice president for student life and success, said. “Their hard work, determination and perseverance helped them reach this meaningful milestone. Their ability to come together and support each other while being physically apart helped secure a special place in BSU history by exemplifying care, compassion and respect for one another.”

Additionally, Stacia Goodman, a Minneapolis-based artist commissioned to install a mosaic on the new Hagg-Sauer Hall, will speak on her intent to dedicate the piece to the BSU class of 2020.

Acknowledging that a traditional ceremony will not be held at this time, BSU senior Cailey Birchem from Wheaton, Minn., recommended a virtual mosaic initiative to the BSU commencement planning committee. Through a partnership with a live photo compilation company, Luster Co., Bemidji State will build a virtual mosaic on the BSU website using photos posted on public social media accounts.

To submit a photo to the mosaic, social media users can post a photo to their Instagram or Twitter accounts and use the hashtag #BeaverGrads. The virtual mosaic will compile all photos with the hashtag into one large, mosaic photo. The submission window for the 2020 mosaic will be open from 6 a.m. on May 8 through midnight on May 22.

Profile picture frames and virtual Zoom backgrounds are also available to all graduates on the Bemidji State commencement website at

Additional events for the Bemidji State Class of 2020

BSU Nursing Pinning Ceremony
The BSU Nursing Pinning Ceremony for the class of 2020 will be held virtually at 3 p.m. on May 7 where students will be formally admitted into the profession as graduates of BSU’s nursing program.

During the event nursing staff and faculty will deliver speeches and welcome guest speaker Dr. Helen Erickson, nurse theorist and author. Among other awards, Erickson has received the Living Legend Award from the University of Texas, San Antonio, the Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Holistic Nurses Association and the Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Michigan School of Nursing, Ann Arbor.

BSU Honors Stoling Ceremony
At 5 p.m. on May 7 students in Bemidji State University’s Honors Program will be virtually recognized for their accomplishments in the program by President Hensrud and the Director of the Honors and Liberal Education Season Ellison, who is also an assistant professor of history.

Graduates were asked to pre-record a one-minute recap of their Honors theses to be revealed during the virtual event and recently received their commencement stoles to wear at the formal commencement exercise held at a later date.




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