Skip to main content

WVU debuts GradFest ahead of May 2022 Commencement

mortarboard decorated with outline of WV

Download full-size

A celebration of nearly 4,500 West Virginia University graduates begins next week with the inaugural GradFest and culminates in commencement ceremonies planned for May 13-15.

In one of the first GradFest events, WVU President Gordon Gee will host Marco Greenberg, author of “Primitive: Tapping the Primal Drive that Powers the World’s Most Successful People,” for an in-person and virtual fireside chat Monday (April 18). In-person attendees will receive a signed copy of Greenberg’s book.

All week, Appreciation Station and Alumni Truck Pop-ups in various campus locations will give graduates the chance to write a letter of recognition or a thank you note to a mentor, professor, advisor or a fellow student.

Prior to the Gold-Blue Spring Football Game Saturday (April 23), graduates can return to the Erickson Alumni Center for a Touchdown Tailgate from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. for food, yard games, gifts for graduates (student ID required) and more. GradFest ends with the Spring Ring Ceremony, also at Erickson Alumni Center, at 11:30 a.m. Sunday (April 24). 

Just a few weeks later, as WVU holds 16 traditional ceremonies in two locations over three days, graduates will hear from speakers ranging from an award-winning author to a noted neurosurgeon and the global investigations editor for the Associated Press to an alumnus who has worked in television, film and theater for more than 25 years.

Denise Giardina grew up in a McDowell County coal camp. The author of six novels, Giardina parlayed her life experience into best-selling books that revealed the destruction coal companies brought to southern West Virginia, even as they brought economic development for the state and the region. Her “Storming Heaven” was a Discovery selection Book-of-the-Month Club and New Voices selection of the Quality Paperback Book Club, as well as the 1987 W. D. Weatherford Award for the best published work about the Appalachian South. Giardina’s op-ed pieces have appeared in The New York Times and The Washington Post and she has published in “The Nation,” “Southern Exposure” and “The Village Voice.” Giardia will speak at the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences Graduate Ceremony Sunday, May 15, at 9 a.m. in the WVU Coliseum.

With a career focused on disorders of the human brain and the application of emerging technologies, Dr. Michael L. J. Apuzzo is one of the world’s best-known and respected neurosurgeons. Over four decades, Apuzzo pioneered areas of technology transfer, immunology, microsurgery and endoscopy, among others. He conceived, developed and coined areas of minimal invasion, cellular and molecular surgery, functional neurorestoration and nanoneurosurgery. He served on advisory panels for the United States National Institutes of Health and held special advisory positions for three American Presidents and the United States Congress. He served as the neurological consultant to the USC Department of Athletics, the New York Giants football team and National Football League Commissioners –having a central role in advancing helmet design and revolutionizing head injury management. His activities and collective body of work played a primary role in the reinvention of neurosurgery, its practice, scope and status in the global community–earning him iconic historical standing. Apuzzo will address graduates of the School of Medicine Friday, May 13, at 7 p.m., in the Canady Creative Arts Center.

The Associated Press’ Ron Nixon oversees a team of nearly 30 investigative reporters around the world in his position as global investigative editor. He has led investigations that have won several national and international awards, including the Selden Ring, Overseas Press Club, Investigative Reporters and Editors, the Robert F Kennedy Journalism, the Society of Publishers in Asia, and the Worth Bingham awards. He was part of a team that won a 2020 News and Documentary Emmy in collaboration with PBS Frontline for an investigation into the record-breaking numbers of migrant children in detention under former President Trump. Nixon earned the inaugural 2021 News Leader of the Year award from the News Leaders Association. He spent nearly 14 years at The New York Times where he covered border and aviation security, immigration, cybercrime and cybersecurity, transnational crime and violent extremism. He has reported from nearly two dozen countries, in Africa and North, Central and South America. Nixon is currently the visiting associate for Journalism and Media Studies at The University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. Nixon will speak to graduates of the Reed College of Media Friday, May 13, at 9 a.m. in the WVU Coliseum.

WVU alumnus Matt Van Dyne has spent more than 25 years in Los Angeles, where he founded Clothe, Inc., which provides wardrobe arrangements and serves as a liaison between prominent fashion houses like Armani, Dior and Ferragamo and films, television programs and special events, most notably the Winter Olympics for CBS. For two decades he has been involved in designing, styling and supervising for The Disney Channel, The WB Network, HGTV and television shows including Cheers, Jeopardy!, the Miss USA and Miss Teen USA pageants, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and more. Van Dyne has styled and costumed dozens of actors, musicians and sports figures including Michael J. Fox, Sally Field, Alyssa Milano, Olivia Newton-John, Scott Hamilton and Katarina Witt. Van Dyne will speak to College of Creative Arts graduates at 12:30 p.m. Friday, May 13, in the Canady Creative Arts Center.

Other colleges and schools may share speaker information for their ceremonies separately.

This year marks the last graduates of WVU’s College of Education and Human Services and the College of Physical Activity and Sport Sciences; the two schools will merge this summer to become the College of Applied Human Sciences.

Schedule of Events

Friday, May 13:

  • Reed College of Media, 9 a.m., Coliseum
  • College of Law, 9:30 a.m., Canady Creative Arts Center
  • College of Physical Activity and Sport Sciences, noon, Coliseum
  • College of Creative Arts, 12:30 p.m., Canady Creative Arts Center
  • Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Design, 3 p.m., Coliseum
  • School of Public Health, 4 p.m., Canady Creative Arts Center
  • School of Medicine M.D., Ph.D., Masters (Biomedical Sciences, Health Sciences and Clinical & Translational Science), 7 p.m., Canady Creative Arts Center

Saturday, May 14:

Sunday, May 15:

  • Eberly College of Arts and Sciences – Graduate, 9 a.m., Coliseum
  • Eberly College of Arts and Sciences – Undergraduate, noon, Coliseum
  • School of Medicine Professionals, 3:30 p.m., Coliseum

Read more about WVU’s May Commencement Ceremonies.

Tickets are not required for WVU’s commencement ceremonies. Each ceremony will be livestreamed for those who cannot attend in person. The webcast link will go live a few minutes prior to ceremony time. 

Read about WVU’s Clear Bag Policy.

Find maps and information about parking.

Both WVU Potomac State College in Keyser and WVU Institute of Technology in Beckley will hold commencement ceremonies Saturday, May 7.


Special Events Coordinator

Call 1-855-WVU-NEWS for the latest West Virginia University news and information from WVUToday.

Follow @WVUToday on Twitter.