WSU Vancouver to honor 1,018 graduates on May 8

VANCOUVER, Wash. – Washington State University Vancouver will honor 1,018 graduating students this year. The honorees include graduates from the fall 2020 and spring and summer 2021 terms.

Because of COVID-19 restrictions, WSU Vancouver will not hold a traditional in-person ceremony this year. Graduates were invited to participate in two commencement events on May 8: a virtual, system-wide WSU graduation celebration at 10 a.m.; and a drive-through celebration at WSU Vancouver from 1 to 4:30 p.m.


The 2021 graduates include 32 doctoral candidates in the areas of education, environmental and natural resource science, history, math, neuroscience, nursing practice, prevention science and sociology.

The 72 master’s candidates will receive degrees in anthropology, biology, computer science, education, electrical engineering, environmental science, mechanical engineering, nursing, psychology, public affairs and teaching.

The 914 bachelor’s candidates will receive degrees in anthropology, biology, business administration, computer science, digital technology and culture, earth and environmental science, education, electrical engineering, English, history, hospitality business management, human biology, human development, humanities, mathematics, mechanical engineering, neuroscience, nursing, psychology, public affairs, social sciences, sociology and strategic communication.

Names of the graduates can be found in the online commencement program, available May 8 at


Two annual awards are celebrated in the online program: the Chancellor’s Award for Student Achievement and the Students’ Award for Teaching Excellence.

One graduating student each year is honored with the student achievement award, which recognizes academic excellence, love of learning and leadership potential. This year’s awardee, Rebecca Daniel, will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in computer science. A role model for female students and a perennial presence on the President’s Honor Roll, she was instrumental in starting a volunteer tutoring service for computer science students that was so popular it was expanded to other majors. She also served as an officer for the WSU Vancouver chapter of the Association of Computing Machinery for Women, helped organize and lead skills and networking events, served as a teaching assistant and lab assistant, and worked with Information Technology to upgrade the campus print server.

The award for teaching excellence recognizes a faculty member who commits time outside of the classroom to keep students from falling through the cracks, and who instills enthusiasm for the subject matter in students. Dene Grigar, director and professor of Creative Media and Digital Culture, is receiving the award this year. Grigar did not become one of the most popular professors on campus by going easy on students. Mindful of the competitive nature of the work environment her students will face when they graduate, she is exacting in her demands and rigorous about deadlines. And she is tireless in creating opportunities for them to do good work and in getting that work recognized.  “She is more than a teacher for me,” a student nominator said. “She is a life mentor.”


As one of six campuses of the Washington State University system, WSU Vancouver offers big-school resources in a small-school environment. The university provides affordable, high-quality baccalaureate- and graduate-level education to benefit the people and communities it serves. As the only four-year research university in Southwest Washington, WSU Vancouver helps drive economic growth through relationships with local businesses and industries, schools and nonprofit organizations. 


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Brenda Alling, Office of Marketing and Communications, 360-546-9601,


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