The COVID-19 pandemic halted traditional graduation ceremonies last year, but this spring, area colleges are holding on-campus commencements – with precautions in place.

California University of Pennsylvania will host three in-person commencement ceremonies for graduates over two days, May 7-8, at Cal U.’s 6,000-seat Convocation Center.

Interim university President Robert Thorn will confer more than 1,000 degrees at the ceremonies, although not all graduates will attend.

The staggered graduation ceremonies were organized by the college to meet state-mandated occupancy limits. Students from the School of Graduate Studies and Research will attend at 7 p.m. May 7; students from the College of Education and Liberal Arts at 10 a.m. May 8; and students from the Eberly College of Science and Technology at 2 p.m. May 8.

Each graduate who attends the in-person ceremony will receive two guest tickets. To reduce risk of the spread of COVID-19, all guests must wear masks, and social distancing is required.

All three ceremonies will be livestreamed for those who cannot attend.

James T. Davis, the chair of California University of Pennsylvania’s Council of Trustees, will address graduates. Davis is a 1973 Cal U. graduate, and serves as senior partner at Davis & Davis law firm in Uniontown. He has tried more than 150 criminal and civil cases before juries during his legal career.

He founded his law firm in 1976 after earning a bachelor’s degree in political science at California State College, and his juris doctorate from Duquesne University School of Law. A member of the Pennsylvania Bar Association, he has presented litigation and argued cases before the Commonwealth Court, the Superior Court and the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania.

He has been named a Pennsylvania Super Lawyer annually since 2005 and is a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, which recognizes attorneys and advocates who have won verdicts and settlements of $1 million or more.

Waynesburg University will hold four in-person commencement ceremonies on the lawn of Miller Hall on May 1 and 2.

The Rev. James Tinnemeyer, senior pastor at Southminster Presbyterian Church in Pittsburgh, and Lance Hyde will serve as commencement speakers, and Joshua Sumpter, chaplain and an instructor of Biblical & Ministry Studies at Waynesburg University, will be baccalaureate speaker.

More than 400 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral students from the Waynesburg campus and its Southpointe site will be honored at the commencement ceremonies. Each graduate is allotted four tickets for guests.

Hyde will speak at the Graduate and Professional Studies ceremony at 3 p.m. on Saturday, and Tinnemeyer will speak at the three undergraduate ceremonies at 10 a.m., 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. Sunday.

All four commencement ceremonies will be livestreamed online at, and the virtual baccalaureate ceremony will be livestreamed at 7 p.m. May 1.

Graduates who cannot attend in person can participate virtually and will be recognized at the in-person ceremony, where their name will be announced and their photo shown on a large outdoor screen.

Tinnemeyer is the Senior Pastor at Southminster Presbyterian Church in Pittsburgh. He previously served at Waynesburg University in various roles, including Vice President for Student Services, Dean of Students, Associate Professor of Biblical & Ministry Studies and University Chaplain.

Hyde is Director of Global Inclusion and Diversity at Koppers, where he chairs the Inclusion and Diversity Committee.

To fight COVID-19, Hyde led Koppers’ efforts in the All One Pittsburgh drive, which raised over $67,000 to purchase essential household goods for over 3,000 families in six underserved communities throughout the Pittsburgh region in a two-week period.

In 2019, Hyde, who holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from California State University, East Bay and a Master of Business Administration from Waynesburg University, achieved the highest honor in his profession by being selected as the Supplier Diversity Professional of the Year by the National Minority Supplier Development Council.

Washington & Jefferson College will hold its commencement ceremony for the Class of 2021 on Sunday, May 23, at Wild Things Park, adjacent to W&J’s Ross Memorial Park and Alexandre Stadium.

The number of guests allowed per student will depend on the expected number of participants, as well as CDC and Pennsylvania Department of Health Guidelines for both indoor and outdoor events.

The college is working to finalize graduation plans.

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