CASE STUDY
OLE MISS GRADUATION

The historic University of Mississippi needs no introduction, with academic rigor and a deserved reputation for fun and friendship delivering life-changing experiences for its 20,000-plus students. 

 

The school’s annual commencement ceremonies had never been an exception; however, in-person gatherings became impossible when the COVID-19 pandemic took hold. 

 

For the first time in the University’s 176-year history, it went virtual to graduate its class of 2020.  Through our partners at Nolan, Inc., a leader in videoconferencing technologies, and with and V2 Media for dynamic visual production, Behind the Scenes came to the table to produce a digital, but distinctly Ole Miss commencement experience. 

 

Since then, the partnership has shifted to working with Ole Miss Events to create hybrid events for virtual and live audiences. The May 2021 commencement ceremonies have been the greatest achievement of this venture so far.

 

Strategy

 

More than 25,000 people tuned into the virtual celebrations for the Ole Miss class of 2020. The University was impressed with the rapid event organization and seamless execution, as well as the reception of parents and families. But we were still aiming bigger.

 

Behind the Scenes, Nolan and V2 organized a hybrid commencement event in the late spring, which retained social distancing in-person and was streamed online for those who could not travel to Oxford or were not able to secure tickets. The ceremony drew on best-in-class audiovisual technology, ensuring the public could tune in from across the world and on any device. The digital platforms were webpages created for each degree program’s separate graduation ceremony, all accessible from a central hub, which we helped develop for Ole Miss Events. 


Our teams generated a realistic graduation experience by focusing on background and visuals – from subtle blue curtains complementing Ole Miss’s iconic red crest to crisp, clear audio perceptible at low-volume settings.

 

Outcome

 

Ole Miss realized a jump of more than 40% of attendees between this year and last year’s ceremonies. More than 62,000 people participated in the 2021 hybrid commencement. 

 

Multiple individual ceremonies that were streamed over a two-week period produced an unprecedented global event for the school. Among more than 80,000 total views, countries represented included Brazil, Canada, Nepal and Saudi Arabia – among 78 in total.  And some 82% of participants tuned in on a mobile device or tablet.  The combination of in-person presence and worldwide accessibility wowed participants.

“A repeated theme we heard from parents is that family members who may have had trouble getting to Oxford for graduation under normal circumstances now had the option to tune in from home,” said a university representative. “Working with Behind the Scenes, as well as Nolan and V2, was an overwhelmingly positive experience for everyone. This trio’s eye for detail and refusal to leave any stone unturned in preparing for Commencement created a recipe for success.”