Pomp and Circumstance: Celebrating HSU’s Classes of 2020 and 2021

Humboldt State University’s Classes of 2020 and 2021 will return to small, in-person celebrations, with four Commencement ceremonies spread out over two days in Redwood Bowl on Friday, May 14 and Saturday, May 15.


Ceremonies will be livestreamed so that families, friends, and the campus community can watch and celebrate the graduates’ big moments. There will be a link on humboldt.edu the days of the events. A video recording of the ceremony will be available online for free at commencement.humboldt.edu in the weeks following.

There will be a combined ceremony for all Colleges on Friday, May 14 and three college ceremonies on Saturday, May 15. They will be held RAIN or SHINE.

Friday, May 14
4 p.m.—All Colleges Ceremony
College of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences; College of Natural Resources & Sciences; and College of Professional Studies will be in one combined ceremony.

Saturday, May 15
9 a.m.—College of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences
12:30 p.m.—College of Natural Resources & Sciences
4 p.m.—College of Professional Studies

Face covering and physical distancing will be required at all times. Students, staff, faculty, and guests must perform a wellness self-check just prior to coming to campus. If anyone is feeling ill, have symptoms of COVID-19, or have potentially been exposed to someone with confirmed or suspected COVID-19, they should not attend the Commencement event.

More than 2,100 students in the class of 2020 and 2,600 in the class of 2021 have earned degrees and credentials. More than 1,100 graduates have signed up to participate in the in-person commencement ceremonies. With the graduation of the Class of 2021, the California State University achieved a milestone—four million living alumni.

“Commencement is our favorite day of the year—we love getting to celebrate with students and their families, and seeing the pride they have for this huge achievement,” says Kristen Stegeman-Gould, HSU Director of Marketing and Commencement Co-Coordinator. “We’re excited to be able to offer something in person and celebrate both classes. We know it means a lot to the students and families to have that tradition of walking across the stage.”

Humboldt State’s first graduation event took place at Arcata’s Minor Theatre in May 1915, with 15 women receiving teaching certificates.

This year’s commencement will include a ceremony for Honorary Degree recipient Walter James Lara, Sr. Lara is a respected spiritual leader and wisdom keeper of the Yurok Tribal people and recognized as a Native cultural and political luminary among Tribal Nations throughout the State of California. Lara has a long and enduring relationship with Humboldt State University. He made contributions to scholarship in which he shared his knowledge on Yurok tradition through publications and workshops. He will receive a Doctorate of Humane Letters during the College of Professional Studies ceremony on Saturday, May 15 at 4 p.m. Read about past Honorary Degree recipients here.

More Commencement Information

Forever Humboldt: New graduates are encouraged to register for FREE with Forever Humboldt, the official association for the HSU community. Registered alumni members receive ongoing HSU Library access, special discounts at local businesses, access to HSU career resources, special invites to Forever Humboldt events, and more. Get more information on the Forever Humboldt website.

Get Social with #humboldtstate: Graduates, their friends, and families are encouraged to share their photos on social media by using the #humboldtstate hashtag.

Graduation Pledge: Students are encouraged to take the Graduation Pledge of Social and Environmental Responsibility, a Commencement tradition that began at HSU in 1987 and has been used by more than 100 universities worldwide.

Find more details about the 2021 Commencement on the Commencement website.