Michigan State University’s Spring Commencement 2021

Creative Day delivers fifty-three commencement ceremonies outdoors at Michigan State University

The University was founded in 1855 and has grown to have the largest undergraduate enrollment among Michigan's colleges and universities. Michigan State Univeristy (MSU) has approximately 634,300 living alums worldwide.

When the COVID-19 Pandemic began to effect Michigan, MSU sent a vast majority of its students home and ended in-person gatherings in March of 2020. Since then the university implemented multiple alternatives to continue it’s student's education without any further delay. The return of in-person gathering came cautiously, but the need to celebrate and honor the accomplishments of their graduating students never wavered. 

Creative Day reached out to MSU prior to the pandemic with a design to stage the Spring Commencements in the Spartan Stadium which then at a later time, MSU approached Creative Day Technologies for support in hosting their 2021 Spring Commencements. Because of Pandemic regulations this gathering had to take place outdoors and limited the number of attendees without sacrificing the significance of each student accomplishment. 

The live events industry was hit hard by the Pandemic, an industry that only exists through the gathering of audiences of 50 and more, we all adapted. Creative Day’s team is made up of engineers and Project Managers that have experience in both events and broadcast media. Therefore, we were able to quickly pivot to embrace the broadcasting world once again as the need for virtual and web-streamed event grew exponentially. 

Creative Day provide full event support for MSU’s Spring Commencement in 2021. This significant event was hosted to allow for 5,000 graduates to walk across the stages. The responsibility the university held for it’s students and their family’s was taken in the highest regard as they limited the attendee capacity to 500 per ceremony. Obviously, there were many more family and friends that wanted to share in this moment with the graduates, so Creative Day provided dedicated web-streams for all 53 ceremonies, many of them simultaneously.

This project included four locations with up to four shows per day, per location over seven days. The stages were 20ft wide by 16 ft deep and 48in high and included two ADA compliant ramps. The stage was centered to a 30ft wide by 19 ft high scrim screen that was custom printed with the MSU Seal. The scrim screen provided and beautiful broadcast backdrop which allowed for wind to pass through keeping the design clean as well as inviting the school’s scenic to be part of the stage design. 

On each side of the stage a 11’H x 20’W LED wall was safely flown to provide the presentation support as well as Image Magnification (Imag). For presentation support we included graphic and video playback computers, both primary and backup redundancies. 

Audio utilized  L’Acoustics line array systems that were flown and designed for each outdoor space. 

Each event was captured through two (2) Panasonic 4k cameras and switched to both the LED screens onsite and the web-stream. Each of the 53 commencement ceremonies demanded seamless cooperation between the on-site web technician, university IT services, remote captions, and engineers at the local public broadcast station on MSU’s campus.  Creative Day coordinated the complicated logistics required to pull off this endeavor with meticulous planning, over-communication, and a crew of expert technicians. Michigan’s unpredictable weather aside, (there was snow, rain, and sun on the first day of ceremonies) every single commencement was flawlessly streamed out to family and friends around the world.

This series of events was a first for the university and many of its kind. We were honored to be trusted with such a new take on an important ceremony for MSU and it’s students. The event was regarded as such a success we continue to provide event technology support to Michigan State’s Commencement ceremonies since.

These ceremonies now take place inside the Breslin Center. Creative Day also inhabited Michigan State University’s goal this year of making their Commencement Ceremonies a celebration without compromising the gravitas of the occasion. Part of achieving that goal was to invite graduates and their friends and families both in the Breslin Center and watching online, to become part of the pre-show program by sharing pictures and congratulatory text of the special day to an online technology that Creative Day implemented. Representatives from the University were able to quickly moderate the submissions in real time and approved images were then routed to the LED wall, the installed jumbotron, and to dozens of screens in the concourse areas of the Breslin Center. Not only did this innovative solution delight graduates and fulfill the University’s audience engagement goals, but after the Commencement Ceremonies were complete, Creative Day was able to deliver approximately 20,000 pieces of user-generated content to the marketing and public relations departments at the various colleges within the University.

Client: Michigan State University

Date: Apr 26, 2021- May 8, 2023

Location: Michigan State University four parking lots (Auditorium, Breslin, Stadium, Erickson)

Service: Live Event Technology and Design


  • Audience capacity of 500 guests per show onsite
  • 53 shows and streams, many simultaneously through the course of seven days
  • Four stages positioned throughout campus so that the backdrops would best compliment MSU nature and architecture