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WVU to hold four in-person commencement ceremonies in May

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WVU will return to in-person commencement ceremonies with four graduation exercises at Milan Puskar Stadium May 15 and 16.

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West Virginia University graduates will return to in-person commencement ceremonies this May; and although some restrictions will be in place because of COVID-19, the celebrations will be no less memorable for the 4,499 who walk across the stage to receive their diplomas. Graduates from May, August and December 2020 are also eligible to participate in the exercises.

Commencement will be held at Milan Puskar Stadium May 15 and 16 in four ceremonies. Masks and social distancing will be required and all participants must register. Tickets will be required for admittance to all four ceremonies.

Along with greetings from WVU President Gordon Gee and Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Maryanne ReedVice President and Executive Dean for Health Sciences Dr. Clay Marsh will address Health Sciences students, and all graduates will be addressed by an alumna who broke barriers in the medical field.

Dr. Patrice Harris, a three-time WVU alumna, is the speaker at all four commencement ceremonies. Harris is the first African American woman to be chair of the American Medical Association’s Board of Trustees Harris earned her master’s degree in counseling and her medical degree at WVU. During that time, her passion for helping children emerged and she completed her psychiatry residency and fellowships in child and adolescent psychiatry and forensic psychiatry at the Emory University School of Medicine. A distinguished fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, Harris continues in private practice and currently consults with both public and private organizations on service delivery and emerging trends in health care. She has been an active leader in organized medicine for her entire career, including as chair of the AMA Opioid Task Force since its inception in 2014 and has held positions of leadership with the American Psychiatric Association, the Georgia Psychiatric Physicians Association, the Medical Association of Georgia and The Big Cities Health Coalition.

WVU will honor four West Virginians who have delved into exploring energy solutions, taking on the entertainment industry from all angles, creating a family-owned business that has expanded its scope into seven states and ensuring that stories and resources about the state and the Appalachian region are preserved and available to a wide audience.

Mike John is founder, president and CEO of Northeast Natural Energy, a West Virginia-based upstream natural gas company with offices in Morgantown and Charleston. NNE has drilled more than 100 Marcellus shale wells that produce enough clean-burning natural gas to heat and power 5,000 homes every day for a year. Northeast operates a transparent research well project just outside of Morgantown involving WVU, the U.S. Department of Energy and Ohio State University and is partnering with the state of West Virginia to do the water filtration work necessary to bring Deckers Creek back to life. John has served as the vice president of operations of the Eastern Division for Chesapeake Energy and as a senior executive in various roles at Columbia Natural Resources/Triana Energy, where he also served on the company board of directors. A Weston native, John is a WVU alumnus and has also served on the WVU Alumni Association Board of Directors.

When Robert “Bob” Orders, Jr., founded Orders Construction Company in 1964, it was primarily a bridge contracting firm. Since then, the company has expanded its scope of service to include industrial/mechanical, heavy highway and utility construction serving a wide range of markets in seven states. Orders, a WVU alumnus, is on the Board of Directors of the WVU Foundation and is a trustee of The Nature Conservancy of West Virginia and the Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation. He previously served as president of the Contractors Association of West Virginia and as a trustee for the Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary. Orders was inducted into the West Virginia Business Hall of Fame in 2017.

John and Orders will receive honorary doctorates from the Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources.

Born and raised in West Virginia, Ann Magnuson has consistently referenced her love of her home state in song, written and spoken word, visual and performance art and theater. She traverses the creative landscape like few others: as an actor in Hollywood blockbusters, off-Broadway plays, television sitcoms and indie films; as a singer, songwriter and recording artist fronting various bands; as a journalist writing for numerous publications; and as a visual and performing artist presenting her original theater and performance art pieces worldwide. Magnuson has performed opposite David Bowie, Harrison Ford, Jodie Foster and Meryl Streep. She was inducted into the West Virginia Hall of Fame in 2018.

Magnuson’s honorary doctorate will come from the College of Creative Arts.

Ken Sullivan's Appalachian roots go back 200 years and he spent a career endeavoring to educate others about West Virginia’s place and importance in Appalachia and the country. Sullivan retired as director of the West Virginia Humanities Council and before that was editor of “Goldenseal,” the quarterly magazine of West Virginia traditional culture. Sullivan was also the editor and principal creator of “The West Virginia Encyclopedia” in its print and online versions. In addition to that work, he has edited or authored several other books, numerous articles and book reviews. Sullivan served on the editorial board and was a contributor to the 2006 “Encyclopedia of Appalachia” and currently serves on the editorial board of “West Virginia History Journal.”  He received the 2017 Vandalia Award from the state of West Virginia and the 2005 Folklife Award from Fairmont State University. Sullivan serves on the West Virginia Faculty Merit Foundation to select the state’s Professor of the Year and is one of two West Virginians to have been an officer and board member of the National Federation of State Humanities Council.

Sullivan will receive an honorary doctorate from the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences.

Due to health and safety protocols, ticket distribution for guests will be limited. Find updates and additional details at

Schedule of Events

Saturday, May 15

  9 a.m.

  • Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources
  • College of Physical Activity and Sport Sciences
  • Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design
  • Reed College of Media

  2 p.m.

  • College of Creative Arts
  • Eberly College of Arts and Sciences

Sunday, May 16

  9 a.m.

  • College of Education and Human Services
  • John Chambers College of Business and Economics

  2 p.m.

  • College of Law
  • School of Dentistry
  • School of Medicine
  • School of Nursing
  • School of Pharmacy
  • School of Public Health



CONTACT: Lisa Martin
Special Events Coordinator

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