Drake University to hold 150th commencement ceremonies May 14–15 in the Knapp Center

Graduates from the classes of 2020 and 2021 will be honored during six in-person, socially distanced ceremonies

Drake University will hold its 150th commencement ceremonies in-person, with appropriate health and safety measures, May 14–15. Originally scheduled to be outdoors, the undergraduate and graduate ceremonies have been moved indoors to the Knapp Center due to forecasted weather conditions.

In an effort to provide a safe environment and ensure social distancing, Drake has divided its Spring 2021 commencement into six ceremonies held across two days. The ceremonies will celebrate the accomplishments of 1,027 students eligible to receive their undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral degrees. Both graduates of the classes of 2020 and 2021 will be in attendance. View a schedule of the ceremonies.

A highlight of the Law School ceremony Friday, May 14, at 7 p.m. will be the presentation of an honorary degree to retired Lieutenant General Russell C. Davis, a 1969 Drake Law School alumnus with a distinguished military career. Davis will also deliver the commencement address at that ceremony. In 1982, Davis was the first African American to be named a general officer in the Air National Guard; and in 1988, was the first African American to serve as National Guard Bureau Chief.

“As we proudly gather to celebrate the achievements and hard work of the classes of 2020 and 2021, it is also an honor to recognize General Davis,” said Drake University President Marty Martin. “He is a testament to our students and the nation of what it means to live a life of impeccable character, integrity, courage, and sacrifice. We are humbled to call General Davis a Drake alumnus.”

As part of the undergraduate ceremony at 12 p.m., graduating senior Kathleen McCracken will be awarded the Oreon E. Scott Outstanding Senior of the Year Award and address her fellow classmates. McCracken is graduating with a major in international relations and minors in Arabic, French, and religion. Each year, the Oreon E. Scott Award is presented to a student leader who embodies the four hallmarks of scholarship, leadership, service, and involvement. 

Mary McCarthy, associate professor of politics and international relations, was one of three professors who nominated McCracken for the award. She described McCracken as someone who “doesn’t just do what is necessary but is always striving to go beyond. Kathleen seeks out opportunities to improve herself and her community.” McCarthy went on to say “Kathleen will make Drake proud locally and globally, wherever life takes her.”

In-person attendance to the commencement ceremonies is limited and tickets are required for entry. Candidates were allowed to register for up to four guest tickets in April. Tickets will not be provided the day of the event. All attendees will be required to wear a mask and maintain social distancing. All six ceremonies will be livestreamed at live.drake.edu. Visit the commencement website for more information.