Huntington – Marshall University will welcome graduates and their families to Joan C. Edwards Stadium for the first-ever commencement to be held there.


The outdoor commencement will take place Saturday, May 1, at 9 a.m., rain or shine, at the stadium usually home to Marshall football. In the case of a lightning delay, festivities will be rescheduled for Sunday, May 2, also at 9:00 a.m. at the stadium.

Spring 2020, summer 2020, and fall 2020 graduates will also be honored in the first in-person commencement since fall 2019.

Dr. Sonja Cantrell-Johnson, university registrar, says the university is eager to host commencement in Joan C. Edwards Stadium.

“Conducting commencement at the stadium allows us to be as safe as possible while giving our students the opportunity for an in-person graduation ceremony,” Cantrell-Johnson said in a University-issued press release. “We’re excited about this new venue and the commencement program we have in place.”

The keynote speaker for the 2021 spring commencement program is Lt. Gen. Anthony Crutchfield. The native of Little Rock, Arkansas, is a 1982 graduate of Marshall University. Crutchfield graduated from the School of Journalism and Mass Communications and as a Distinguished Military Graduate.

Crutchfield retired as a lieutenant general from the Army in 2017 after 34 distinguished years. He led units at nearly every level of the army, including the 10th Mountain Division’s Aviation Brigade and Commanding General of the Army’s Aviation Branch at Fort Rucker, Alabama. His last assignment before retiring was as Deputy Commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, the largest combatant command in the U.S. unified command structure.

Crutchfield is currently the vice president of army systems at Boeing. In 2011 he served as the grand marshal of Marshall University’s homecoming parade and is currently on the board of the Society of Yeager Scholars.

CDC guidelines will be enforced, with all participants asked to wear masks in the stadium at all times. No exit and re-entry will be allowed per regulations. Graduates were allotted 4 tickets apiece. The tickets are needed for valid entry and will assign visitors to particular seats for social distancing.

Gates will open at 7 a.m. Those attending are asked to allow for additional time for required security procedures in place at Joan C. Edwards Stadium, including searching bags. Participants in the commencement exercise are asked to wear tennis shoes or flats and no high heeled shoes to protect the football turf.

Handicapped parking and a drop-off zone are available just behind the main football stadium scoreboard along M Club Drive, as well as additional handicapped parking in the stadium lot. For those not able to attend in person, the ceremony will be streamed live at For a list of prohibited items or for more information visit

In separate ceremonies, Marshall’s School of Pharmacy and Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine will also award degrees at the stadium.

The School of Pharmacy is awarding 59 Doctor of Pharmacy degrees in its sixth annual Graduation and Investiture Ceremony, at 4 p.m. Thursday, April 29.  Thomas Menighan, B.S. Pharm., M.B.A., Sci.D. (hon.), CEO emeritus of the American Pharmacists Association, is delivering the keynote address.

At 4 p.m. Friday, April 30, the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine will award 74 Doctor of Medicine degrees, four Doctor of Philosophy degrees in biomedical research and the school’s first combined Doctor of Medicine-Doctor of Philosophy degree in its 41st Annual Graduation and Investiture Ceremony. C. Douglas Phillips, M.D., a graduate of the class of 1984 and neuroradiologist at Weill Cornell Medicine, will give the keynote address. The School of Medicine Alumni Association will also recognize its 2021 Honorary Alumnus.

In the event of adverse weather conditions, the pharmacy and medicine ceremonies will be moved to alternate locations that will be determined this week.