Lander University to hold multiple ceremonies to confer degrees for Class of 2021
Friday, Apr 30, 2021

Lander University will conduct it's 163rd commencement exercises on Tuesday, May 11, when it will confer degrees on the approximately 377 graduates of the Spring 2021 class.

To ensure the health and safety of graduates, guests and employees, the University will follow all COVID-19 safety measures and allow for appropriate social distancing inside Finis Horne Arena. The graduating class has been divided into three (3) ceremonies in order to limit the number of persons inside the arena.

Graduates will receive their degrees during designated times, based on their academic college.

  • 9 a.m. - College of Education, College of Science & Mathematics
  • 12 p.m. - College of Business, School of Nursing
  • 3 p.m. - College of Arts & Humanities, College of Behavioral & Social Sciences, IDS Majors


Keynote Speaker, Dr. Brenda Kapingidza '15

Lander alumna Dr. Brenda Kapingidza will serve as keynote speaker for the 9 a.m. and 12 p.m. ceremonies.  A researcher with the Duke University School of Medicine's Human Vaccine Institute, Kapingidza has been working with a team of scientists to study the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, which is associated with the Covid-19 disease. Raised in Zimbabwe, she became a first-generation college graduate when she earned her bachelor's degree from Lander in 2015.


Keynote Speaker, Mayor Brandon Smith

Mayor for the City of Greenwood, Brandon Smith will serve as keynote speaker for the 3 p.m. ceremony. A passion for community service leads Smith to help others through volunteering with organizations such as Meg's House, Beyond Abuse, Greenwood Miracle League, Kiwanis Club, United Way and other nonprofit organizations. In addition to community service, Smith is a practicing attorney and general counsel for a local business. He and his wife, Tara, are the parents of three sons and are active members of Main Street United Methodist Church. 


Honorary Degree Recipient, Scott Smith

Scott Smith, campus minister with Lander's Baptist Collegiate Ministry (BCM), will receive an honorary degree during the 3 p.m. ceremony. Smith's service to the University spans more than three decades, during which time he has mentored and ministered to thousands of Lander students, as well as faculty and staff. A native of Pendleton, Smith was awarded the University's Medallion of Honor in 2008. 


Ceremony details

Doors to the arena will open one hour prior to each event and will close 15 minutes before the start of the ceremony. Latecomers and those without tickets will be directed to the Abney Cultural Center, where the ceremony will be broadcast via closed circuit television (CCTV) and projected onto a large screen.


Tickets are required to enter Horne Arena. In order to accommodate pandemic guidelines for social distancing and limited capacity, tickets are limited to five (5) per graduate.  All ceremonies will be livestreamed from the Lander website to accommodate those who cannot attend in person.


Safety and Security Measures

In an effort to provide a safe environment for graduates and guests, face masks will be required inside Horne Arena and the Abney Auditorium. All ceremony activities will follow current public health guidelines for social distancing. Temperature checks will be taken before entry; those with a temperature of 100.4 or higher will not be allowed inside. 

University police will enforce a clear bag policy. Security measures also include metal detectors at both main entrances of Horne Arena. All items are subject to search.


Live stream on Website

For those who cannot attend, a live stream of the ceremony will broadcast on Lander's website at, beginning shortly before each ceremony is scheduled to begin.