More than 50 animals got their moment to shine in the May 5 ceremony
ST. PETERSBURG, FL (May 7, 2020) – In its eighth year, to serve a community scattered to the winds, Eckerd College’s Pet Graduation adapted its annual celebration of the furry and scaly critters who usually call its campus home. On Tuesday, May 5, at 5 p.m., the College hosted its first-ever remote Pet Graduation ceremony via Google Meet with 67 registered animals and their graduating seniors. President Donald Eastman, who ends his 19-year tenure at Eckerd on June 30, gave a brief congratulatory address from his home, accompanied by his wife, Christine, and their poodle, Samson.
On-campus pets have been a formalized part of the Eckerd community since 1972, making Eckerd one of the first schools in the nation to adopt a written pet policy. Now, as more institutions embrace allowing students to matriculate with their furry friends, Eckerd College stands as a leader in and authority on how to successfully integrate small animals into campus life. In addition to an annual pet blessing and several pet activities, Pet Graduation allows graduating students to honor the animals that supported them throughout their college career. This year, seniors were mailed a congratulatory certificate, an Eckerd-branded pet tag and a custom-made pet bow tie in honor of President Eastman, who usually sports a human version and whose administration originated the ceremony. Each pet and family got to hear its name called by Vice President for Student Life and Dean of Students James Annarelli during the 20-minute program.
More than 300 companions have “graduated” from Eckerd since the school began holding a separate ceremony in 2013. Eckerd College students can live in on-campus housing with one animal (dogs under 40 pounds, cats, rabbits, ferrets, ducks and chinchillas) or two small pets (fish, hamsters, gerbils, amphibians, nonvenomous reptiles under four feet long and small birds).
00:00-00:49 Eckerd College Chaplain Rev. Doug McMahon offers introductory prayer.
00:50-02:41 Colin Hilliard ’20, a senior student and outgoing director of Eckerd College’s outgoing Pet Life program, delivers welcome.
02:41-06:06 Eckerd College President Donald Eastman, who retires June 30, delivers congratulatory address with wife, Christine and their poodle, Samson.
06:06-19:36 Vice President of Student Affairs and Dean of Students reads the names of all 66 pet graduation animals (57 present) and the families are each given a moment to celebrate.
19:37-20:15 Incoming Pet Life Director Mo Bastion ’21 delivers closing remarks.
For more information about the ceremony, contact Robbyn Hopewell at firstname.lastname@example.org.