From the judges: This was a truly exceptional re-design, and true pivot of an event to a virtual experience. The hyper-personalization through the microsites was excellent, and creates a sense of knowing and celebrating the graduates as individuals. The attention to detail was exceptional: downloadable personalized graphics for social media, and especially the ability to hear the graduates' names read. In particular, their names being read is special because that experience is so fundamental to a commencement. NVU's idea allowed graduates' loved ones to hear and celebrate them, regardless of location. The success of the work was also clear from the school's stats. The fact that NVU will fold these ideas into future commencement, and that other schools can learn from their work, contributed to a unanimous decision by the judges that this entry deserves Grand Gold distinction.
Class of 2020 Virtual Graduation Celebrations
Special Events > Special Event Pivot
Award: Grand Gold
Institution: Northern Vermont University
Title of Entry: Class of 2020 Virtual Graduation Celebrations
About this Entry: Faced with the transition to remote events as a result of COVID-19, Northern Vermont University needed a way to celebrate and recognize our graduating class. To that end, we developed a microsite and video presentation with personalized information provided by the graduates. Budget and time were both constraints on this project so we completed it with our own team. Aside from a few stock assets, this project was almost zero cost.
Both the microsite and video were fed student information as a spreadsheet letting us quickly adapt to changing data as more students were approved for graduation. This spreadsheet also allowed us to generate custom social media graphics for students to share. We enlisted faculty at our two campuses to read graduate names as well to make the celebration more special for our students.
Messages from the university president, provost, and alumni council presidents were pre-recorded while practicing safe distancing and mask wearing by all but the speaker. Students also worked to record a rendition of each campus' alma mater to share during the celebration. Lastly, we reached out our entire community for messages to the graduates which we read aloud.
That content, and more, was presented on an accessible microsite to access a la carte. Individual videos from the celebration were listed and searchable graduate pages presented photos and messages submitted by the graduates. These pages also listed their degree(s), played back their recorded name, and presented a virtual diploma jacket like they would traditionally receive.