Masked and distanced graduates and a limited number of faculty and administrators celebrated commencement for the Indiana University South Bend classes of 2020 and 2021 May 12. The event was held outdoors on the IU South Bend campus, where the two classes combined received 357 Master’s Degrees, 1,608 Bachelors Degrees, and 36 Associates Degrees.
IU President Michael A. McRobbie presided over the event, his last commencement before his retirement in June. IU South Bend Chancellor Susan Elrod, whose first commencement as chancellor in 2020 was delayed due to the pandemic, delivered her first in person commencement address to graduates.
“Your ability to adapt to remote learning this past year and your commitment to completing your degrees under these circumstances should be applauded,” she said to graduates. “You have persevered in the midst of a global pandemic. And, because of that, you have gained the skills to be successful no matter what challenges you face or what opportunities come your way.”
Student Government Association president and 2020 graduate Kayla Isenbletter delivered the student address. “The future may feel so uncertain, but I am certain that this group has amazing things to offer, because I have seen what you all have accomplished here and in our community,” she said. “I am proud and fortunate to be here among a group of students that refused to stop, that continued to fight for themselves and others, that kept showing up again and again even on days when it felt impossible. I look forward to seeing how you will use your experiences and the lessons you have learned to make the world a better place to be.”
The diversity of students graduating from IU South Bend is impressive. The age of these two classes’ graduates spans from 18 to 74. Nearly half the graduates are over the traditional college age of 24. One out of three students graduating are among the first in their family to graduate from college and one in five is a student of color. Additionally, 86 graduates are veterans of the Armed Forces. In total 29 countries, 17 states and 44 Indiana counties are represented in the 2020 and 2021 classes. Eighty of the students graduating are members of the Honors Program and 24 are members of Indiana’s 21st Century Scholars Program.
Virginia Brown Calvin received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters during the ceremony. Calvin was the first African American school superintendent in Indiana when she became superintendent of the South Bend Community School Corp. She also served as chancellor of Ivy Tech Community College-North Central for a decade.
Dr. Michael L. Blakesley (BS ’74) received the 2020 Distinguished Alumni Award. An emergency medicine physician for 40 years, Dr. Blakesley is also an assistant professor of anatomy and cell biology at IU School of Medicine– South Bend and adjunct assistant professor of biological science at the University of Notre Dame. Diane Dudek Parmelee (BSN ’84) received the 2021 Distinguished Alumni Award. A devoted and inspirational leader, Parmelee is director of educational services for Beacon Health in South Bend.
A compilation of community-curated social media photos and posts using the official commencement hashtag #IUSBGrad21 is available here.
A highlight video of the ceremony can be seen here.