The COVID-19 pandemic required Minnesota State Chancellor Devinder Malhotra to make the difficult decision to cancel in-person spring commencement ceremonies across the Minnesota State system. As the capstone celebration of the college experience, commencement is one of our favorite days of the year.

    “While we won’t celebrate in person this spring, we are proud of these graduates who have worked exceptionally hard to transition quickly to complete their coursework for graduation,” said a media release. “Many have faced additional health, family or financial challenges in addition to remote learning. Their world, like ours, has been turned upside down.”

    The University will celebrate the class of 2020 in a variety of ways this week. The class also has an open invitation to walk in a future commencement ceremony.

    In a letter to the Class of 2020, President Anne Blackhurst wrote: “You will forever be recognized for your grit, applauded for your humility during difficult times, and remembered for the heart you have shown. Your Dragon family is filled with pride at your resilience and accomplishments. You are ready to transform the world.”

    MSUM will award degrees to nearly 700 undergraduate students and nearly 200 graduate students, including the university’s first cohort of doctoral students, 13 graduates earning the doctor of education in educational leadership (Ed.D.).

    Tweet congratulations to the graduates using #MSUM2020.

    The following students are expected to earn degrees:   

    • Sarah Bernhardt, School Psychology (SPEC), Crookston High School, New Ulm

    • Michael Kostrzewski, Accounting (BS), Crookston High School, Crookston

    • Philip Shafer, University Studies (BS), Crookston High School, Crookston

    • Natalie Abell, Nursing (RN to BSN) (BSN), East Grand Forks HS, Woodbury

    • Aaron Arneson, Business Administration (BS), Fosston High School, Fosston

    • Carly Black, Special Education (MS), Stephen-Argyle Central, East Grand Forks

    • Kaylyn Cummings, Biology: Health & Medical Sciences (BS), East Grand Forks HS, East Grand Forks

    • Shayley Espeseth, Theatre Arts (BA), Win-E-Mac School, Bagley

    • Erin Gaddie, Nursing (RN to BSN) (BSN), East Grand Forks HS, Grand Forks

    • Paige Gieseke, Nursing (RN to BSN) (BSN), Win-E-Mac School, McIntosh

    • Christina Haaven, Educational Leadership (MS), Win-E-Mac School, Warren

    • Cole Hammargren, Construction Management (BS), East Grand Forks HS, East Grand Forks

    • Rachel Jenson, Exercise Science (BS), East Grand Forks HS, East Grand Forks

    • Kirby Newhouse, Educational Leadership (MS), Fisher Secondary School , Fisher

    • Ryan Nordskog, Film Production (BA), Fosston High School, Moorhead

    • Alison Olson, Entertainment Industries and Technology (BS), Fertile-Beltrami School, Fertile

    • Amber Page, Project Management (BS), Fertile-Beltrami School, Fargo

    • Ponny White, Political Science (BA), East Grand Forks HS, Wayzata


    Minnesota State University, Mankato awarded 2,367 degrees to 2,294 students at the end of the spring 2020 semester, with this spring's graduates celebrated through a special website that launched Saturday, May 9, the day on which the University's three traditional graduation ceremonies were scheduled but cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Each graduate also received personalized URL video messages by email on May 9, and "commencement-in-a-box" packages were shipped to each graduate the week before graduation.

    The following Crookston student earned their degree:

     • Jordan Bengtson, BSCE, Civil Engineering, Cum Laude

    More information about the Minnesota State Mankato spring 2020 commencement is available at