UNC Charlotte conferred 3,746 undergraduate degrees and 1,524 graduate degrees upon the Class of 2021 over three ceremonies on Friday, May 14, and Saturday May 15, in Jerry Richardson Stadium. A separate ceremony for the Class of 2020 was held Thursday, May 13.
The ceremonies marked the first in-person graduations for the University since December 2019 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and they were the first for Chancellor Sharon L. Gaber since her arrival at UNC Charlotte in July 2020.
“Around the world and here in Niner Nation, the COVID-19 pandemic has directly impacted and significantly changed daily life. Through it all, you and your fellow Niners have shown true understanding and patience,” said Chancellor Sharon L. Gaber. “Commencement is one of our most cherished traditions, one that marks a major milestone for you, as we celebrate the culmination of your transformative journey at UNC Charlotte. While you have done the work, this is also a day for your family, friends and faculty members to commemorate.”
Though social distancing protocols were in place, more than 11,000 friends and family were able to gather in the stadium to cheer on their graduates over the course of the three ceremonies while nearly 32,000 people joined virtually.
In addition to celebrating the graduates, a special faculty member was honored. Heather Coffey, an associate professor in the Department of Middle, Secondary and K-12 Education and director of the UNC Charlotte Writing Project, recently won the Board of Governors’ 2021 Award for Excellence in Teaching. She was recognized during Saturday’s ceremony by Mark Holton, the board’s liaison to the University.
“Teaching future teachers is one of the most important things a public university can do. And she absolutely excels at that critical task,” said Holton. “She creatively bridges the gap between educational theory and practice in teacher education. She is most noted for her work in urban school settings and providing outstanding professional development for experienced teachers. Simply put, she is a star.”