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OSU-Cascades’ 20th commencement will be virtual, but with on-campus drive-thru celebration

Shane Welsh of Bend is graduating from OSU- Cascades with a bachelor's degree in natural resources
Shane Welsh of Bend is graduating from OSU- Cascades with a bachelor's degree in natural resources

Meanwhile, OSU will graduate record-size class Saturday in Corvallis

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Oregon State University–Cascades will host its 20th commencement next Sunday with both a virtual ceremony and an on-campus celebration for graduates.

The graduating class includes 268 students, of which 40% are first generation college graduates and 18% are students of color.

OSU-Cascades will host the virtual ceremony and drive-thru event in keeping with state, federal and OSU health and safety COVID-19 guidelines.

Interim Vice President Andrew Ketsdever will preside over the virtual ceremony, which will be available at 9 a.m. for graduates, family members and friends, as well as the public.

“OSU-Cascades’ graduates have persevered, particularly during the past 15 months, but this has provided them skills to address the complex health, climate, racial equity and political challenges facing our country and communities,” said Ketsdever.

OSU-Cascades will host a drive-thru graduation celebration with OSU mascot Benny Beaver from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. During the event, faculty and staff will cheer gradates, who can pose for a photograph with Ketsdever and Benny. Each graduate will receive a gift from the campus Office of Student Life.

Scott Allan, former CEO of Hydro Flask, will deliver the commencement address. During his time leading Hydro Flask, the company gave $250,000 to spur the development of a bachelor’s degree in outdoor products at OSU-Cascades. He retired from Hydro Flask in 2020. Allan is a member of the OSU-Cascades Advocacy and Advisory Board and serves on a board that advises on the continued development of the outdoor products degree program.

The commencement ceremony will also include remarks by Kelsey Abbot, who will earn a Bachelor of Science in tourism, recreation and adventure leadership. Student body president Taha Elwefati, a junior and social science major, also will address the graduating class.

To learn more about the OSU-Cascades commencement events and graduates, visit

Some facts and figures about the OSU-Cascades’ class of 2021:

  • Of the 268 graduates, bachelor’s degrees will be awarded to 213 students. Three undergraduates will receive two degrees. Master’s degrees will be awarded to 55 students.
  • 85% of the graduates are from Oregon, with 57% coming from Central Oregon. In addition, 20 of Oregon’s 36 counties are represented. 
  • Graduates represent 16 other U.S. states and China, Hong Kong, Russia and Vietnam.
  • Four graduates will graduate from the OSU Honors College.
  • Four graduates recently were inducted into Phi Beta Kappa, the nation’s oldest academic honor society.
  • The average age of the graduating class is 28; the oldest is 79 and the youngest is 20.
  • 5.6% of the graduating class are veterans of U.S. military service.

Including the Class of 2021, more than 4,700 students will have graduated from OSU-Cascades since it was established in 2001. Here is a link to a news release regarding Oregon State University’s overall 2021 graduating class.

Each OSU-Cascades graduate has a compelling story. For example:

  • After working eight years as a hair stylist, Shayla Lane was ready for a new career field. She embarked on a computer science degree and met other women who were non-traditional students and changing careers. Together they offered mutual support in a field where women are in the minority. Inspired to make a difference, she co-founded a student chapter of ACM-W, a professional association for women in computing. She joined computer science faculty at outreach events where she promoted the field to K-12 students. She worked with instructor Jill Hubbard, co-leader of a multi-university effort called CS for Oregon that seeks to make computer science a more inclusive field, and led the development of a website to support the effort. Lane led a team that placed first in the OSU College of Engineering’s Launch Academy pitch competition with a concept for a web-based course focused on creating startup companies.
  • Hannah McCalpine is originally from Tuscaloosa, Ala., and moved to Bend with her family and transferred from a much larger university to OSU-Cascades. She majored in American studies and said she found it easy to meet people and make friends in classes on a small campus. For an independent study project, she examined the role of colorism, the prejudicial or preferential treatment of same-race people based solely on their color, and how it is internalized within the African American community. Neil Browne, a professor of English, described the project as “a strong contribution to the field of American studies and to our larger moment.” Following graduation, McCalpine will enter a Master of Arts in Teaching program at OSU-Cascades and hopes to teach language arts and social studies to high school students.
  • Shane Welsh is a graduate of Mountain View High School in Bend and the first in his family to earn a bachelor’s degree. He worked in restaurants for 15 years, but always wanted to learn about the natural world. He embarked on a degree in natural resources at OSU-Cascades. As a single father, he worked two jobs throughout most of his undergraduate career, which he said could be stressful. But he found his faculty were understanding and encouraging, and he persisted. Graduating with broad knowledge about the dynamic nature of forests and fish and wildlife, he’s hoping to work for the U.S. Forest Service. He also sees his achievement as having impact beyond his own career and hopes that his son realizes the importance of higher education.

Meanwhile, in Corvallis, Oregon State University will graduate a record 7,391 students during a virtual commencement event at 10:30 a.m. Saturday.

An in-person graduation celebration will take place the day before from 12:30 to 3 p.m. The event will include an informal processional of graduates, departing from the Memorial Union and Valley Library quads and ending at Reser Stadium, where graduates will hear brief remarks from OSU leaders.

Face masks will be required at the in-person event. As family and friends will be unable to attend the stadium event, graduates will be able to have their photo taken at booths set up in the stadium to share later with others. 

The 7,391 graduating students will receive 7,690 degrees during the virtual event. (There will be 271 students receiving two degrees and four who will receive three degrees.) They will add to the ranks of OSU alumni, who have earned 272,504 degrees over the university’s history.

A virtual commencement address will be given by Edward J. Ray, who led a dynamic transformation at Oregon State during 17 years of service as the university’s president. Ray served as OSU president through June 30, 2020 and is now president emeritus. He was scheduled to give the commencement address last year, but the ceremony was cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Some facts and figures about OSU’s class of 2021:

  • Of the 7,690 degrees that will be awarded, 6,210 will go to students receiving bachelor’s degrees; 1,037, master’s degrees; 264, doctor of philosophy degrees; 81, doctor of pharmacy degrees; 70, doctor of veterinary medicine degrees; and 8, doctor of education.
  • OSU’s 2021 graduates represent all of Oregon’s 36 counties, 50 states and 73 countries.
  • Students of color represent 24.7% of this year’s graduating class.
  • The oldest graduate is 79 years old; the youngest is 19 years old; the average age is 25.
  • The graduating class includes 177 veterans of U.S. military service.
  • A record total of 1,384 Oregon State students completed requirements in 43 degree programs this year through Ecampus, the university’s top-ranked online education provider. The graduates hail from 47 states and 15 countries.
  • The degrees to be awarded include 216 to undergraduate students (including three who were double majors) and 55 to graduate students from OSU-Cascades in Bend.
  • OSU’s Honors College is graduating 230 students.
  • The graduating class includes 1,390 students who are the first in their family to earn a college degree; 4,226 Oregon residents; and 3,164 non-resident students of which 983 are international students.

With this graduating class, Oregon State will now have more than 205,000 alumni living and working in all 50 states and more than 125 countries. 

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