A surfeit of purple and gold will be on display at the Washington State Fairgrounds in Puyallup for the 32nd annual UW Tacoma Commencement on June 13, 2022.
The campus is awarding more than 1,900 undergraduate and graduate degrees this year. As of June 1, the exact number was 1,565 bachelors and 362 masters or doctoral degrees, for a total of 1,927. The final total will be more than that as some students fulfill requirements at the last minute.
This year marks a return to an in-person Commencement ceremony. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, 2020 and 2021 were all-virtual events.
As a result, hundreds of graduates from 2020 and 2021 will be joining their Class of 2022 peers in walking across the stage this year – a welcome if belated capstone to their unprecedented college experience.
The ceremony is being held this year in the Washington State Fairgrounds grandstand – an acknowledgement that the COVID pandemic is still with us. Prior to 2020, for many years, the ceremony was held indoors at the Tacoma Dome, but the move was made to the outdoor setting of the fairgrounds as a preventative measure. Health protocols of the State of Washington and Pierce County are being followed during the ceremony.
Continuing a UW Tacoma tradition, representatives of the leadership of the Puyallup Tribe of Indians will provide a welcome to those assembled for the event.
Additionally, this year for the first time the faculty marshal will read a land acknowledgement, a formal statement recognizing that the UW Tacoma campus and the State Fairgrounds exist on land that has been stewarded by the Puyallup people since time immemorial.
Puyallup Assembly Center
Commencement attendees will also be asked to reflect on another aspect of the Fairgrounds history.
In 1942, U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued executive order 9066, which authorized the internment of hundreds of thousands of Japanese and Japanese Americans along the west coast of America. The Fairgrounds were turned into the Puyallup Assembly Center, a camp that housed thousands of these community members temporarily as they were being transferred to longer-term incarceration.
Recently, for Paw’d Defiance, the UW Tacoma podcast, we talked to Cho Shimizu and Eileen Yamada about this incarceration. Shimizu was a small child when he and his family were forced to leave their family farm, moving first to the Puyallup Assembly Center and then the Minidoka War Relocation Center in Idaho.
Lamphere’s mother was also held in Puyallup – her parents later met in Minidoka.
Over two episodes of Paw’d Defiance, Shimizu and Lamphere discuss what life was like in the South Sound prior to the start of World War II. They also talk about conditions at places like the Puyallup Assembly Center and the impact the internment experience made on themselves and their families.
UW Tacoma is awarding more than 1,900 degrees this year, and many recipients of the Classes of 2022, 2021 and 2020 will be at the 32nd annual Commencement ceremony.