Dear Students of the Class of 2021,
Like so many institutions across our nation, Loma Linda University has had to again make the difficult choice to modify how our graduations will be conducted this year.
The entire University community is proud of each of you and your achievements. Your successes are even more remarkable in light of this pandemic’s profound challenges — 12 months of obstacles you have overcome with remarkable resilience and courage. In just a few weeks you will achieve the goal that brought each of you to Loma Linda University — a degree that has prepared you well as you begin your service in healthcare.
As an Academic Medical Center, Loma Linda University is committed to rigorously following the many County, State of California, and CDC guidelines addressing the pandemic that affect not only our University campus but our healthcare system as well. These include specific restrictions on the size and nature of both indoor and outdoor gatherings. The health and safety of you and your family always take precedence.
The undeniable reality we are all in has led to our decision to plan for “drive-through” commencement ceremonies this year. Graduation weekends take months of planning and preparation. By making this decision early, we are able to focus our planning on creating the most meaningful ceremony possible for each of you, with the assurance that we will be able to carry them out successfully regardless of what tier we are in, or any changes to regulations. All ceremonies and most other events will be live-streamed to allow those in your family who are unable to join us in person to share in your accomplishments.
As a faith-based institution, we hold a number of services around commencements with a strong spiritual emphasis – hoodings, consecrations, pinnings, dedications, and baccalaureates. Because they are religious in nature, current guidelines allow for modified accommodations and broader attendance; we are in the process of re-directing plans for these particular services with the goal of being able to hold them in-person with a limited number of +guest(s) for each graduate. You will be informed of specifics and additional details as they become available.
Here is what we anticipate commencement weekends will look like:
School-based events (banquets, hoodings, dedications, award chapels, pinnings, and other recognition events) – schools are planning these events following all required CDC/state/county guidelines; graduates will receive information directly from their schools.
Baccalaureates – We are planning to hold in-person baccalaureates at the University Church, with modifications that will entail a pre-determined number of +guest(s) per graduate and pre-registration. Additional information and registration links will be made available to graduates ahead of time.
Commencement Ceremonies – The Centennial Complex parking area (Lot X) has been designated as the staging area for graduates’ cars. Each graduate will be allowed one vehicle. Upon arrival to Lot X, graduates will check-in and be directed to park in a designated row (by program), and wait until they are dismissed to drive over to Woods Walkway on University Court. Schools will inform their graduates as to arrival times. The route will take graduates from Campus (southbound), to Stewart (eastbound), to Anderson (southbound), and right onto University Court, where each graduate will exit their vehicle and line up on the walkway, and process toward the platform. Each graduate’s vehicle will be able to follow them alongside the walkway, and at one point, pause to watch them receive their diploma. Once the graduate exits the platform, they will enter their vehicle and proceed onto University Avenue.
Lot X will have “photo op points” where graduates will be able to take photos with their family unit, while waiting to be dismissed. Graduates will also be able to see ceremony proceedings in a large screen located in the staging area, as well as via our GradCast platform on our commencement website, or accessing the mobile app LLUH Mobile (iOS | Android).
Visit the FAQ page to receive answers to a number of questions we are receiving about graduation.
To each of you in the Class of 2021: the University’s faculty and leadership have great pride in your successes, and we look forward to cheering your future accomplishments. Each of you has contributed to our vibrant learning community. As you complete your studies and begin your next chapters, we pray that you will take what you’ve learned here and continue Loma Linda University’s legacy of service around the world.
Richard H. Hart, MD, DrPH
President, Loma Linda University Health