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For Immediate Release
March 31, 2021

Purdue Fort Wayne commencement returning to Memorial Coliseum

Key Info

  •  Commencement ceremony returns to Memorial Coliseum June 18
  • Purdue University Fort Wayne and Indiana University Fort Wayne graduates invited
  • Student Government Association unanimously passes resolution in favor of plan
  • Ceremony to also be livestreamed
Purdue Fort Wayne commencement returning to Memorial Coliseum Image 1
Combined commencement ceremony for both universities, May 8, 2019 Print-quality image
Purdue Fort Wayne commencement returning to Memorial Coliseum Image 2
Ronald L. Elsenbaumer, chancellor Print-quality image
Purdue Fort Wayne commencement returning to Memorial Coliseum Image 3
Derrik West, student body president Print-quality image

FORT WAYNE, Ind.—Leaders at Purdue University Fort Wayne, in close consultation and collaboration with officers of its Student Government Association, have developed a plan to return this year’s commencement ceremony to the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum on June 18. The announcement was shared with the campus community on Wednesday.

The in-person ceremony will include both Purdue Fort Wayne and Indiana University Fort Wayne students from the graduating Class of 2021, as well as those who graduated in 2020 but missed out on a formal commencement ceremony as a result of COVID-19 restrictions. The event will also be livestreamed.

“The rapid expansion and success of the state’s vaccination program over the past few weeks, combined with the enthusiasm of our Student Government Association to revisit the possibility of moving our commencement ceremony back to Memorial Coliseum, allowed us to pursue options that simply didn’t seem possible or even prudent at the beginning of March,” said Ronald L. Elsenbaumer, chancellor, Purdue Fort Wayne. “We are pleased to be in a position to again offer our graduating students many of the special moments and memories of a more traditional, in-person experience.”

The health and well-being of participants and guests remains a top priority in the decision-making process for this year’s event. By moving the date to June 18—a month later than Purdue Fort Wayne’s previous commencements—many more members of its campus community will have had the opportunity to be vaccinated. Another contributing factor is the relatively low incidence of positive cases and quarantines the university has experienced during the spring 2021 semester.

Purdue Fort Wayne initially announced in early March that an in-person ceremony would not be possible given the impact of COVID-19 at the time. While an outdoor procession, ceremony, and celebration were being planned for mid-May, greater access to the COVID vaccine, extra time to plan, and additional guidance from the State of Indiana and local health department allowed the university to pivot and pursue the more traditional option of hosting a commencement at Memorial Coliseum.

“It’s a major feat for our students, especially those nearing graduation this spring, to have withstood the changing environment of COVID-19 while still maintaining a successful academic year,” said Derrik West, student body president. “Given all of the challenges we’ve faced, it’s very important to graduates and their loved ones to be given an opportunity to celebrate their achievements in this way.”

Flexibility remains key to Purdue Fort Wayne’s pandemic response. As a result, some necessary modifications to the commencement ceremony will also be implemented so the university can continue to meet or exceed guidance from the state and county health departments and other public health authorities. For instance, the university fully expects that masks will be required in Memorial Coliseum except for the moment graduates walk across the stage and are photographed. Due to social distancing protocols, tickets will likely be required with limits of two to four per participating graduate and there will be no after-party following the event. Additionally, depending on anticipated numbers, two ceremonies may need to be scheduled for June 18 to accommodate graduates and their guests.

Many details are still being confirmed, and the university will communicate additional information during the coming weeks.

“Purdue Fort Wayne is delighted that this iconic milestone in the lives of our students and their families will more closely resemble what they have envisioned all along,” Elsenbaumer said. “We are grateful for the support of the Student Government Association, which unanimously passed a resolution in favor of the plan. This is yet another indication of the resilience and determination that our campus community continues to exhibit during what has been a very challenging year.”

All candidates for graduation, including those who received their degrees in 2020, will be receiving information from the University Events and Ceremonies office, including instructions regarding RSVPs, commencement apparel, and diplomas. Information will also be available on Purdue Fort Wayne’s commencement website.

Media interested in learning more about Purdue Fort Wayne’s commencement ceremony may contact Geoff Thomas, senior director of media relations, at or 260-437-7657.

Derrik West may be contacted at or 260-481-6589.