FSU to hold virtual Fall Commencement Ceremony Dec. 11

Professor Sharon Nicholson is the 2020-2021 Robert O. Lawton Distinguished Professor. (FSU Photography Services)
Professor Sharon Nicholson is the 2020-2021 Robert O. Lawton Distinguished Professor. (FSU Photography Services)

Florida State University will hold a virtual commencement ceremony for its fall graduates Friday, Dec. 11.

President John Thrasher will preside over the ceremony, which will be streamed on the university’s website, Facebook and YouTube channels. The ceremony will begin at 7:30 p.m. ET.

The virtual ceremony will incorporate many of the traditional customs associated with the usual on-campus commencement exercises, such as an opening processional to “Pomp and Circumstance,” the playing of the National Anthem, the Pledge of Allegiance, the official conferring of graduate and undergraduate academic degrees, and the turning of tassels on the graduates’ caps.

The decision to hold a virtual ceremony is in line with a directive from the State University System of Florida to develop alternative commencement plans in recognition of health guidelines that limit gatherings.

Sharon Nicholson, a Professor of Meteorology with the Department of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Science, will deliver the commencement address. Last spring, she was recognized by FSU faculty members as the 2020-2021 Robert O. Lawton Distinguished Professor, the highest honor they bestow upon one of their own.

Nicholson, one of the world’s top climatologists, researches dry climates, particularly in Africa, where she has changed the understanding of drought and rainfall. Her work has debunked previous explanations of the expansion of deserts on the continent.

Thrasher and Nicholson will be joined at the virtual ceremony by a few university administrators in full academic regalia. Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs Sally McRorie, Dean of Undergraduate Studies Joe O’Shea, Dean of the Graduate School Mark Riley and Dean of the Jim Moran College of Entrepreneurship Susan Fiorito will participate in the ceremony while observing social distancing guidelines.

Ed Burr, chair of the FSU Board of Trustees, and 2020-2021 Student Body President Jonathan Levin will deliver brief remarks via video.

Just like the virtual commencement ceremonies held in spring and summer of this year, no graduates or guests will be present in order to ensure the health and safety of the participants. Graduates and their family members and friends should remain at home and not come to campus.

Graduates’ names will be read aloud by their colleges in separate videos to be posted at commencement.fsu.edu on Dec. 11. Names will briefly appear at the end of the virtual ceremony and can be found in the digital commencement program that will be posted online at commencement.fsu.edu prior to the ceremony.

Florida State will award degrees to 2,839 graduates this semester: 2,008 bachelor’s degrees, 627 master’s and specialist degrees, 144 doctorates, 12 juris doctor degrees, 45 juris master’s degrees and 3 LLMs. These totals include graduates at FSU Panama City and the university’s campus in the Republic of Panama. The university will recognize students who have earned academic honors as well as student-veterans and members of the Garnet and Gold Scholar Society.

The virtual fall commencement ceremony will be streamed at 7:30 p.m. ET Friday, Dec. 11, via the following websites and social media platforms:


The ceremony also will be simulcast locally on 4FSU (Comcast Channel 4), and it will be archived online for future viewing on demand at www.learningforlife.fsu.edu/fsu-graduation/.