Returning from spring break in March 2020, MSU found itself in a changed landscape and an unclear path. The COVID-19 global pandemic required dramatic and abrupt shifts in the way students learned and matriculated and the TV Center was charged to develop a commencement exercise that would retain the dignity of the traditional in-person event, while recognizing the socially distanced realities of American life.
With less than a month to conceptualize, shoot, edit, and broadcast commencement, the TV Center analyzed which commencement elements were essential to the traditional graduation experience and what new elements might be introduced to bring a virtual audience more fully into the program. Using a combination of field-produced segments, studio components, and graphic overlays, the center developed a half hour program that created some sense of normality in a semester that was anything but. The spring 2020 commencement exercise program received Second Place honors in the Public Affairs Program category at the 2021 Mississippi Association of Broadcasters’ Execellence in Broadcasting awards.