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IWU Commencement 2021: behind the scenes

Illinois Wesleyan opted for a virtual commencement in 2020 due to COVID restrictions but was able to conduct a modified in-person ceremony in 2021. Social distancing rules made it a logistical challenge – Class of ’21 grads were split into two events, and a third smaller event was conducted to celebrate ’20 grads. Each graduate could bring a maximum of 4 guests so it was imperative that we provide a quality online streaming experience for friends and family at home.

To add to the excitement, we didn’t know until Friday if the weather would be good enough to use Tucci Stadium. Michael and Jerry from the IWU network team hustled to get outdoor WiFi in place for the stadium and totally nailed the deadline. The event had to move indoors but was lovely nonetheless:

We brought in two large high-res LCD screens to support such a large room. Jay and his colleagues at Physical Plant provided audio support for on-stage mics and music cues pre-recorded by IWU student musicians.  Abby, Eve, Vinny and Trey set up and operated 4 cameras, produced by Curtis (see below) and streamed on YouTube and a second platform, SideArm. This allowed international viewers to participate even if YouTube is blocked in their location. It was also a great backup for anyone at home having trouble with YouTube buffering.

IWU IT Services and Physical Plant workers worked behind the scenes for days to set up and test, then were on-duty for around 12 hours on Sunday to produce the live event. Follow that up with a clean-up day on Monday and we can finally call this unique, improvised celebration a success. Congratulations to the classes of ’20 and ’21!