How to celebrate commencement

By Ben Blakney, Reporter

With EWU’s foreseeable future continuing online, milestone events, such as Senior Commencement, had to be adjusted. Without a physical celebration, universities around the world have taken their commencement celebrations online.

Lance Kissler, associate vice president of EWU Marketing and Communications, has worked with the MarCom team to translate commencement ceremonies into the graduates’ homes. Together they’ve created a graduation kit that will be mailed to the homes of graduating seniors..

“Things anywhere from the special edition of The Easterner, diploma covers, their regalia … tassels and the little charms …” said Kissler.

On the topic of ideas for personalized ceremonies, Kissler had this to say:

“For example what I would do is I would get all my friends and family together on Zoom, or something similar, and I would kind of produce my own commencement program,” said Kissler. “I would tee up the commencement videos [from the website] and run through them together. I’d be wearing my regalia, I’d do the you know the tassel flip, so on and so forth and I’d have all my friends and family joining via Zoom, so they can watch it. I would be my own little producer, if you will, of an event or something like that.”

Kissler also said that, at the time of writing, MarCom was still figuring out exactly what goes out in these boxes, but was certain that regalia and diploma covers will be included.

Once EWU students who have RSVP’d for graduation receive their MarCom care packages one week before commencement on June 13, they can begin setting in motion their celebrations of their accomplishments.

But how is EWU handling its online graduation?

“Other schools are [hosting] two-hour livestreams of graduation, running peoples names on the screen,” said Kissler. “Yes, that’s one option, but I think, if anything right now, people want to be able to celebrate the way they’d like to celebrate.”

To capitalize on the personalization of EWU grad celebrations, MarCom is creating unique, personalized websites for each graduating senior that has RSVP’d for graduation. Alongside the care package, an instructional sheet with QR code and URL will be sent out, allowing seniors to access their pages.

“Each student will get a website that is dedicated to them that they can customize,” said Kissler. “They can go on there, they can upload their picture, they can invite their friends and family to go to their page and post comments, pictures, videos and congratulatory messages.”

In lieu of forgoing a live graduation ceremony, MarCom felt EWU seniors would appreciate the thoroughness of these personalized websites, where friends and family can leave encouraging messages and see their seniors represented.

The websites will be kept up for many months after graduation. This allows for students unable to host their own celebrations on the June 13 release date to create their own schedule and enjoy commencement on their own time.

EWU will not be hosting a two-hour, live-streamed graduation ceremony. Instead, on the date of graduation (June 13), the university’s contributions to the student’s websites will go live. 

Kissler and his MarCom team designed these aspects of online graduation with flexibility in mind.

Important EWU figures like president Mary Cullinan, provosts, deans and many alumni are in the process of creating videos to simulate graduation speeches. These videos will be released to the students’ pages on June 13 and will remain up for several weeks afterwards.

MarCom is also working with a local printer in Spokane, as well as communicating with Tri-Cities and Westside print makers, to help in the creation of yard signs for the graduates.

All of these efforts are in place to make these socially-distanced graduations as close to the real thing as possible.

“Everyone has different values of the graduation ceremonies, but we think these are the universals,” said Kissler. “Around this ideal, MarCom has adapted the EWU graduation ceremonies in innovative ways, to reward the graduating students with the recognition they deserve.”

Kissler said that any seniors who still want to have that walking experience are welcome to walk at any future in-person ceremony.

“[MarCom] wanted to give our students the moment that they deserve,” said Kissler. “We didn’t want to rob that from those students by not doing anything now.”

Eagle Punch recipe

Courtesy of MarCom


  • 1/2 gallon Hawaiian Punch (for low-calorie version, use Crystal Lite Fruit Punch)
  • 1 quart lemonade (for low-calorie version, use Crystal Lite Lemonade)
  • 2 quarts Sprite or 7-up


  • Combine ingredients into punch bowl or pitcher over ice
  • Garnish with your favorite fruit