MENOMONIE — UW-Stout Chancellor Katherine P. Frank delivered her first commencement address Saturday to 1,183 graduates, telling them in a virtual ceremony that there is “so much to celebrate together” even in the face of “this new, unknown space.”

A total of 1,004 undergraduates and 179 graduate school students received degrees in a 10 a.m. virtual ceremony. A traditional cap and gown ceremony was not possible with the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Dedicated, innovative, determined, collaborative, and generous. These are all words that have been used to describe you, our graduates,” Frank said in a recorded commencement speech.

Before the pandemic began, she said, “you all displayed a commitment to learning and the ability to persevere despite the challenges presented. My hope is that this moment in time, and your success navigating through it, will just further add to your story as well-prepared graduates ready to conquer the many unknowns and challenges that lie ahead.”

Additionally, she said, “While the last couple of months have taught us all many things, one of the most significant lessons I believe we have learned has been that relationships and community matter. Take a moment to reflect on the relationships that have been important to you throughout your UW-Stout journey.”

Frank also pointed to the stories of some UW-Stout students who she said “tell the Stout story eloquently and honestly.”

Joining Frank in addressing the graduates were two student speakers: Madalaine McConville, of Augusta, an applied social science major; and Rana Pluemer, of Platteville, a double major in hotel, restaurant and tourism management and golf enterprise management.

“Stout gave us the opportunity to follow our dreams and discover new ones that we never thought existed,” McConville said. “I was one of those kids who went to Stout because I honestly had no idea what I was doing. But I am glad my doubt and confusion led me here; I could not think of a better place to have ended up. This place quickly turned my doubts into plans, and my plans into realities.”

“Never in my life, have I met so many kindhearted individuals who were there to help me with whatever I may need,” Pluemer said. “I have asked for many favors, including references and mentoring, from faculty and staff across campus, and while it may be one more thing for them to do, they always greeted me with open arms and helped me in every way they could.”

Interim dean of the College of Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Management Gindy Neidermyer; Dean of the College of Arts, Communication, Humanities and Social Sciences Maria Alm; and Dean of the College of Education, Hospitality, Health and Human Sciences Bob Salt also gave prerecorded speeches.

The commencement included a reading of students’ names and photos submitted by the students. The link to view the ceremony is at uwstout.edu/commencement. The ceremony video will remain on the commencement website for families and students to watch again or to view when they have time.

Spring 2020 graduates will have the option to walk in either an on-campus commencement tentatively scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 8, or the December ceremony. Students can participate in both the virtual ceremony and one of the in-person ceremonies.

Diplomas will be mailed to students four to six weeks after final grades are issued.