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Georgia Southern Fall 2020 Commencement

Sunday, December 13 at 2 p.m.

Savannah Convention Center

Savannah Undergraduate Ceremony

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Wednesday, December 16 at 10 a.m.

Allen E. Paulson Stadium

Statesboro Undergraduate Ceremony – College of Arts and Humanities, College of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Jiann-Ping Hsu College of Public Health

View Archived Video

Wednesday, December 16 at 3 p.m.

Allen E. Paulson Stadium

Statesboro Undergraduate Ceremony – Waters College of Health Professions and Allen E. Paulson College of Engineering and Computing

View Archived Video

Thursday, December 17 at 10 a.m.

Allen E. Paulson Stadium

Statesboro Undergraduate Ceremony – Parker College of Business, College of Education and College of Science and Mathematics

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Thursday, December 17 at 3 p.m.

Allen E. Paulson Stadium

Statesboro Graduate Ceremony

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Undergraduate and graduate students will graduate separately.
Undergraduates can choose which ceremony to attend based on the location where they would like to graduate. Graduate students will have one ceremony on the Statesboro campus.

Please note that face coverings are required to be worn at all times

Face Coverings

All Georgia Southern faculty, staff, students, and visitors are required to wear an appropriate face covering while attending commencement ceremonies because six feet social distancing may not always be possible. Face covering use will be in addition to and is not a substitute for social distancing.

Anyone not using a face covering when required will be asked to wear one or must leave the area. Repeated refusal to comply with the requirement may result in discipline through the applicable conduct code for faculty, staff or students.

Reasonable accommodations may be made for those who are unable to wear a face covering for documented health reasons.

The university will use messaging, signage and reminders to enforce the wearing of face masks or cloth face coverings. Appropriate use of face masks or coverings is critical in minimizing risks to others near you. You could spread COVID-19 to others even if you have no symptoms. The mask or cloth face covering is not a substitute for social distancing and should be considered as just one precaution people should take to ensure our community remains healthy.

Acceptable face coverings must:

  • Be made with at least two layers of breathable material
  • Fully cover the nose and mouth and secure under the chin
  • Fit snugly against the side of the face and
  • Be secured to allow the face covering to remain in place independently.

Based on guidance from health officials, open-chin triangle bandannas and/or face coverings containing valves, mesh material, and/or holes of any kind are not acceptable face coverings. Additionally, costume masks are also not considered appropriate face coverings and are prohibited from being worn inside the facility.

Safety

  • All guests, including currently enrolled students, are required to have a ticket for entry. Graduating students do not need a ticket.
  • Tickets will be delivered electronically to graduating students to share with guests. Guests will have the option to print tickets or present an electronic ticket on their mobile device. 
  • Ticket scanners will be used to cut down on touchpoints.
  • All attendees are required to wear a face covering in the facility. If they do not have a face covering, they will be provided a disposable mask. 
  • Hand sanitizing stations will be available throughout the facility.
  • There will be no concession stands.
  • Social distancing will be maintained throughout the facility to the fullest extent possible.
  • As a best safety practice, water fountains will be unavailable. Attendees will be able to carry in a sealed bottle of water (up to 1L).
  • Social distancing guidelines apply to parking areas around the facility. Signage will be placed throughout parking areas to encourage guests to “Do Right” during the event.
  • In Statesboro, guests will not be allowed on the field.

Capacity

Attendance will be limited up to 25 percent of the facility’s full capacity. This allows for appropriate social distancing within the facility’s main seating areas. Tickets will be distributed in seating clusters of four seats with at least six feet of distance between clusters.

Cleanliness

Custodial staff will be present for all ceremonies to keep common areas and restrooms stocked and cleaned throughout the event. All restrooms will be disinfected prior to doors opening.

Hand sanitizing stations will be available throughout the facility.

Commencement is a special and significant occasion in your life. Many of your family and friends will come from a long distance to witness this memorable ceremony. Our faculty, staff and administrators have planned the program and arrangements with every consideration to make this an impressive and enjoyable event for all candidates and spectators.

Please follow these decorum guidelines for Commencement:

  • Arrive an hour or more before the ceremony.
  • Remain quiet and in your seat except when going to the stage or being recognized by your dean and the President. You are not allowed to leave before the ceremony concludes.
  • No smoking.
  • No alcoholic beverages.
  • No balloons.
  • Wear proper graduation attire. Candidates should wear dark, flat shoes and dress attire with graduation gowns.
  • A stole associated with an honor society, a student organization/group represented on campus, or a department of Georgia Southern University may be worn at the commencement ceremony.
  • Cell phone ringers must be turned off during the Commencement ceremony and only text messaging is allowed during the ceremony.
  • No gathering for group photos during the ceremony.
  • No use of selfie sticks or noisemakers such as cowbells, horns, megaphones, etc. will be allowed.
  • Do not engage in other disruptive behavior during the ceremony.

Tickets will be required for each guest at every ceremony, including currently enrolled students at Georgia Southern and children of all ages. This is done to ensure the size of the audience does not exceed the size of the venues. The number of tickets allotted to each graduate will depend on the size of the graduating class. There will be no charge for tickets. 

Graduates will receive their tickets via email as a PDF attachment. Guests can either present a printed ticket (recommended) or display the ticket on their mobile devices to be scanned. Each ticket contains a unique barcode that can only be scanned once. For this reason, it is important to print the entire PDF file to distribute multiple tickets rather than making a copy of the first page.

Candidates should arrive at Paulson Stadium an hour before the ceremony. Enter through gates 9 and 11 and proceed to the seating area on either side of the Bishop Building, based on your college for undergraduates and degree level for graduate students (masters, specialist, doctorate).

Undergraduates should arrive at the Convention Center an hour before the ceremony. Enter the Convention Center through the doors near Bryan Square and follow the signs for candidates.

Seating for the Paulson Stadium ceremonies will begin an hour before each ceremony.  Please enter at the west end of Paulson Stadium — gates 9 and 11. Please proceed to the seating area on either side of the Bishop Building. Your seating location is determined by your college for undergraduate students and by your degree level for graduate students. Staff members will help direct you to your seat in the seating area.

Seating for the Savannah Convention Center ceremonies will begin an hour before the ceremony. Please enter through the doors near Bryan Square. Your seating location is determined by the college from which you are receiving your degree. Staff members will help direct you to your seat in the seating area.

Candidates who need accommodations during the graduation ceremony due to limited mobility should contact the Student Accessibility Resource Center (SARC) by Monday, December 7.

Statesboro Ceremony: 912-478-1566
Savannah Ceremony: 912-344-2572

On the day of the ceremony, they may also speak with a Guest Services representative upon arrival. ADA representatives will assist them with getting to their seat.

Visitors with accessibility concerns are strongly encouraged to arrive early to the ceremony.A designated handicap parking area is available on a first-come, first-served basis. A state handicap parking permit is required. See map below.

If one or more of your guests require accessible seating, all guests in your party should enter Paulson Stadium through the Media Gate or Gate 13 and sit together in the accessible seating area, which is located along the South Concourse adjacent to sections A and G, and along the North Concourse in sections H through P, sections 101 through 113.  See map below. Reservations are not required and seating is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Wheelchairs will not be available at the venue. Please come with a wheelchair if one is needed. 

Visitors with accessibility concerns are strongly encouraged to arrive early to the ceremony. A designated handicap parking area is available on a first-come, first-served basis. A state handicap parking permit is required. You will be able to drop off anyone who is unable to walk long distances at Bryan Square which is very close to the ADA entrance. See parking map below.  

If one or more of your guests require accessible seating, all guests in your party should sit together in the accessible seating area, which is located on the right hand side near the back of the Exhibit Hall.  See map below.  Wheelchair-accessible seating is limited, and is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Wheelchairs will not be available at the venue. Please come with a wheelchair if one is needed.

American Sign Language interpreting is available. Guests who need access and desire close proximity to the ASL interpreter may choose to sit in Section J of Paulson Stadium (Statesboro Campus). In Savannah, the interpreter will be visible on the big screen from all seating areas.  

Student Accessibility Resource Center: 912-478-1566

A name card will be mailed to each candidate. You MUST have this name card before entering the stadium seating area. If you do not have a name card when you arrive at the stadium, blank name cards will be available at a table near the entrance to the stadium floor. If you have a concern that a reader will have difficulty pronouncing your name, phonetically spell out your name clearly on your name card before the ceremony begins. During the ceremony, you will take your name card to the reader in front of the stage so your name can be read as you cross the stage.

A name card will be mailed to each candidate. You MUST have this name card before entering the Convention Center seating area. If you do not have a name card when you arrive at the Convention Center, blank name cards will be available at a table near the entrance to the seating area. If you have a concern that a reader will have difficulty pronouncing your name, phonetically spell out your name clearly on your name card before the ceremony begins. During the ceremony, you will take your name card to the reader in front of the stage so your name can be read as you cross the stage.

The commencement ceremonies will be broadcast live on the university’s Facebook page. All ceremonies can also be viewed on this page. During the time of the ceremonies, a link to the live videos will appear at the top of this page. The Facebook Live event will begin approximately 5-15 minutes before the ceremony. Due to technical constraints, some Internet Service Providers (ISPs) do not permit the use of their systems to transmit such broadcasts. Should you not be able to view the broadcast, please contact your local ISP.

A commencement program listing the names of all candidates will be placed in the candidates’ seats at the ceremony. Guests will receive a program as they enter the Commencement venue.

James “Jim” Thomas, Jr.

James (Jim) Thomas, Jr. is a retired Green Beret Officer (US Army) and a 40-year resident of Liberty County. He also retired from Department of Defense civil service in March of 2006. He is currently running his consulting firm. He has been active in the local community for more than 33 years. He was elected Mayor of Hinesville in November 2007 and served two terms. He is a former member of the Liberty County Hospital Authority for 14 years and the Armstrong University Foundation Board, He currently serves on the Hinesville Development Authority, Hinesville Military Affairs Committee. He is a member of the NAACP, MENSA, INTERTEL, 11 Black Men of Liberty County, Manna House Board and several other local civic organizations.

Jim obtained his BA in Business Management and Administration from Saint Leo University. He has completed graduate studies in Business Management from Central Michigan University and Executive Management training from the University of Maryland.  He is a trained and experienced Engineering Project Manager. 

As a former Department of Defense civil service employee, he served as a liaison between Fort Stewart, Liberty County, city of Savannah and the city of Hinesville. He was the Project Manager for the Joint Use Airport Committee and Project Manager for the construction for “Warriors Walk” (a memorial to our fallen soldiers and civilians at Fort Stewart) and many other buildings and facilities at Fort Stewart and HAAF. He recently co-chaired a committee that completed the construction of the Veterans Memorial Walk in Hinesville, Ga.

He is married to Claudia Elmore Thomas for 56 years and they have four children, four grandchildren and eight great grandchildren.

Skyler Henry

Emmy Award-Winning Journalist Skyler Henry is a Washington, D.C. based correspondent for CBS Newspath, CBS News’ 24/7 newsgathering service for CBS stations and broadcasters around the world. He’s covered a variety of stories including the 2020 presidential race for the White House and politics across the country. His career has taken him from Los Angeles to the nation’s capital where’s he’s interviewed top city, state and federal officials and helped break and cover some of the country’s most talked about moments. 

Skyler earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Multimedia Information from Georgia Southern University in 2011. He strongly considers his time here in Statesboro as some of the most influential in his life. From his countless hours spent working at the campus radio station, 91.9 ‘The Buzz’ in the Williams Center to his time at the RAC getting to work on projects to help encourage healthy lifestyles for the campus, all of it, Skyler credits as foundational to his career as his work covering Georgia Southern Football helped make him part of his first regional Emmy-Award winning team. 

Skyler hails from Stone Mountain, Georgia and lives in Washington, D.C. and is a proud member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Incorporated.

Russell McMurry

Russell R. McMurry, P.E., serves as commissioner for the Georgia Department of Transportation, the state agency responsible for the nation’s 10th largest state transportation system, with an operating budget of over $3.5 billion and a staff of nearly 4,000.  Commissioner McMurry began his career with the department in 1990 as an engineering intern working in construction; he served in a variety of roles prior to being named chief engineer. He was then appointed by Governor Nathan Deal as the department’s planning director before being appointed as commissioner by unanimous vote of the State Transportation Board in 2015.

McMurry currently serves as secretary/treasurer of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) as well as chair of the Council on Highways and Streets and a member of the Strategic Management Committee; he is a member of the national AASHTO-AGC-ARTBA Joint Policy Committee; and is a board member for the Atlanta Transit Link Authority (ATL), Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA), State Road and Tollway Authority (SRTA), the State Depository Board and the Board of Trustees of the Georgia Outdoor Stewardship Trust Fund. He is a member of the College of Engineering & Information Technology (CEIT) Corporate Advisory Committee at Georgia Southern University as well as the University of Georgia College of Engineering Advisory Board.

McMurry has received numerous accolades and recognitions, including being named Georgia Trend’s 2018 Georgian of the Year, and is consistently included in its list of the 100 Most Influential Georgians. He was also named one of Atlanta’s most powerful leaders in Atlanta Magazine’s “Atlanta 500” and named as one of James Magazine’s 2017 and 2019 Most Influential Georgians. McMurry graduated cum laude from Georgia Southern University with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering technology and is a registered professional engineer in the state of Georgia.

Kain Weaver

Kain grew up in Ringgold, GA, prior to attending Georgia Southern University, where he studied Biology with an emphasis in the pre-medical sciences, as well as Modern Languages: Spanish. Kain graduated Summa Cum Laude and proceeded to obtain his doctorate in medicine from the Mercer University School of Medicine, Savannah Campus. Kain is currently a second year resident physician at Atrium Health in Charlotte, North Carolina, where he is specializing in the field of Psychiatry.

Teresa MacCartney

Teresa MacCartney currently serves as the Executive Vice Chancellor of Administration at the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia.  MacCartney began her career at the Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget (OPB) in 2001. She held various leadership positions within state government, including Senior Policy Advisor at the Georgia Student Finance Commission, Deputy Director at OPB and Deputy Superintendent at the Georgia Department of Education.  MacCartney was appointed as the Chief Financial Officer for the State of Georgia and Director of OPB by Governor Deal in October 2012 and held the positon for over six years. 

She currently serves as the chair of the Georgia Higher Education Facilities Authority Board, board member of the Georgia Lottery Corporation, board director of the Jekyll Island Foundation, board director of the Augusta University Health SPC and a board of trustees of the Leadership Georgia Foundation.

Teresa MacCartney earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Science and a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Georgia Southern University. She and her two children reside in Marietta, Georgia.

Relatives and friends may enter Paulson Stadium through Gates 1, 5, 7, 8, 12 or 13. Tickets are required for entry. Guests and candidates will not be allowed to hold or reserve seats for other guests. 

Please note that the ceremonies begin promptly at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. with a processional.

Relatives and friends may enter the Convention Center through the entrances facing the riverwalk. Tickets are required for entry. Guests and candidates will not be allowed to hold or reserve seats for other guests. 

Please note that the ceremony begins promptly at 2 p.m. with a processional and that there is no seating allowed during the processional.

There will be no concessions available for food and drink purchases. As a best safety practice, water fountains will be unavailable. Attendees will be allowed to carry in a sealed bottle of water (up to 1L).

Parking is available at Paulson Stadium and other locations on campus. The shuttle will begin running at Paulson Stadium 1.5 hours before each ceremony. Each parking lot stop is listed below: 

  1. Russell Union/The University Store
  2. Engineering Building/Performing Arts Center
  3. RAC

To minimize traffic congestion, carpooling is encouraged.  The shuttle will continue to run to each parking lot one hour after the end of the ceremony.        

You will be able to park free of charge in the large parking lot in the back of the Convention Center. You will be able to enter the Convention Center at the entrances that face the Savannah River. The back entrance near the parking lot will be closed and not available for entry. Carpooling is encouraged.

A professional photographer from GradImages will take a picture of you as you cross the stage. A proof of this picture will be emailed to you at your Georgia Southern email address and mailed to your home address so that you may decide if you wish to purchase these photos.

If you preregister, you can get 20% off of your purchase.

Caps and gowns are required, and only academic attire approved for the ceremony may be worn. The University Honors Medallion as well as stoles—which include, but are not limited to, Honors Society scarves/cords and Sorority/Fraternity scarves—are approved graduation attire. We suggest candidates wear dark flat shoes, dark dresses or dark pants with their graduation gowns.

Tassels

For undergraduate students, tassels should be worn on the right side of the cap hanging over the right eye. At the ceremony, the President will ask you to move your tassel to the left side of the cap during the ceremony. 

For graduate students, tassels should be worn on the left side of the cap hanging over the left eye. The mortarboard of the cap should be parallel to the ground.

Diploma frames and other commemorative items are available at the University Store on the Statesboro Campus. You may also purchase merchandise online at the University Store’s website. Commemorative items will be available for sale at the University Store the week of graduation, December 14-18, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Invitations, thank you notes, and certificates can be ordered through Printing and Postal Services, in the Main Dining Commons, Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. or on the Printing and Postal Services online webstore.

Diploma frames and other commemorative items are available at the University Store in the Student Union on the Armstrong Campus. You may also purchase merchandise online at the University Store’s website. Commemorative items will be available for sale at the University Store Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Invitations, thank you notes, and certificates can be ordered through Printing and Postal Services, corner of Arts and Science Drive, Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. or on the Printing and Postal Services online webstore.

Diplomas will be mailed to the graduates at their diploma mailing address or their permanent home address. Please remember to update your diploma address in WINGS to an address that will be valid eight weeks after completing all degree requirements. If there is no diploma address, the diploma will be mailed to the current mailing address. Diplomas should be mailed six to eight weeks after graduation for students who have applied for graduation and completed all requirements.

When applying for employment, transcripts should be used instead of diplomas. Three weeks after graduation, if requirements are complete, graduates may request a transcript with the degree conferred.

At the end of the ceremony, there will be a student recessional that will allow graduates to exit the stadium and meet your guests. For your safety and the safety of others, we ask that you agree upon a meeting place away from the gates of Paulson Stadium and beyond the exterior doors at the Convention Center. That way, we’ll avoid any unsafe crowds of people at the entrances.

Maps

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