College of Marin Holds Virtual Commencement Ceremony

Established in 1926, College of Marin, now one of 115 California public community colleges, has provided accessible education to North Bay students for nearly a century. Yet due to Marin’s stay-at-home orders, the college—which includes campuses in Novato and Kentfield—will present a first-of-its-kind commencement ceremony for it’s 93rd year.

Instead of the usual in-person ceremony, COM will celebrate its 2020 graduates and transfer students in a virtual commencement and transfer recognition ceremony webpage scheduled to go live today, Friday, May 29.

The ceremony will also host another first for the college, a filmed performance of “Mariners’ March” by the COM Symphonic Wind Ensemble. Music instructor James Stopher composed the song specifically for the ensemble, which premiered the song live last December, and Stopher is dedicating the song to the College of Marin, whose athletics mascot is the Mariner.

“It’s designed to sound like a traditional fight song with a pompous and confident beginning, a jaunty main melody, an interlude and a bombastic and celebratory ending,” Stopher said, in a statement. “Right now it’s very difficult to have a sense of community, and this is something I wanted to offer the College as a whole, as a way of having something that we can share together that reflects our identity as the College of Marin. In these very difficult times, I hope it can play a small part in bringing people together for the ceremony.”

The College’s 93rd graduating class ranges from 18-year-olds to 80-year-olds, and the college will virtually hand out nearly 500 degrees and certificates.

COM’s virtual commencement will have its own webpage that can be viewed and visited at any time. To participate, COM graduates and transfer-eligible students will receive an email invitation to create an account. Then, they can upload a picture and a message that will be used to create an individual slide, and each student will be able to save and share their slide on social media.

The commencement website will also include a downloadable program; a special message from COM Superintendent and President Dr. David Wain Coon as well as presidents of the Marin Community College District Board of Trustees, Associated Students of College of Marin and Academic Senate.

The virtual ceremony will remain online until May 2021. Additionally, graduates and transfer students will be invited to participate in the ceremony scheduled for late May 2021, assuming public health guidelines permit it. Physical diplomas will be sent to students via U.S. mail after degrees and certificates are certified.

“This is the first commencement in the College’s rich history where we’ve not been able to join together as a community to celebrate the accomplishments of our graduates and transfer students,” Coon said, in a statement. “While disappointing, it doesn’t diminish how proud we are of our students for their resilience, tenacity and true grit as we continued instruction remotely. I also applaud the faculty and staff for helping our students reach their goals under extraordinary circumstances.”

For more information about commencement, visit

Charlie Swanson
Charlie Swanson is a North Bay native and an arts and music writer and editor who has covered the local scene since 2014.
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