CCAD senior building Mershon Auditorium in Minecraft for graduation

Apr 8, 2020
Screenshot of Mershon Auditorium in Minecraft

CCAD senior building Mershon Auditorium in Minecraft for graduation


Students can celebrate virtually via game, live streaming, social channels

It was mid-March, in the midst of Spring Break when Columbus College of Art & Design senior Hannah “Han” Donovan learned commencement was canceled due to the COVID-19 outbreak. She felt she had to do something to celebrate completing her BFA degree with other graduating CCAD seniors. So, she got on Twitter with the idea of using Minecraft to build a replica of where the college had planned to hold its graduation exercises on Saturday, May 9—Mershon Auditorium at The Ohio State University.

“I knew Commencement was being canceled for everyone’s health and safety, but I couldn’t help to be a little bummed,” said Donovan, who was named Outstanding Senior for CCAD’s Comics & Narrative Practice program. “I’m the type of person to look for ways to help myself and others find light in bad situations. 

“Over Spring Break, I started building Mershon, mostly as a joke, and I posted it on Twitter. People seemed to enjoy the idea, both to remark on the absurdity of the situation and as a genuine substitute to the in-person spring commencement.“ Donovan said. 

Minecraft is a sandbox video game in which players explore the generated landscape, mine for resources, and use blocks to build whatever they wish. Donovan played Minecraft in high school but got back into it last summer. She plans to have a completed version of Mershon Auditorium, including its interior with seats for graduates in front of the stage and the exterior with the entryway up to the auditorium’s front door for graduating seniors to walk up in-game. Additionally, there will be a few surprises that CCAD graduates will recognize scattered throughout the space, such as the iconic Art Sign and references to faculty members.
“We realized this situation was a difficult time for our students, especially seniors who are missing their final months together at CCAD,” said Dr. Melanie Corn, CCAD President. “However, our students are talented and clever, so it’s exciting to see them taking all of this change and uncertainty and making the best of it. 

“Although unconventional, this year’s online celebration will acknowledge this special moment for our graduates. We want them to celebrate their accomplishment in creative ways within social distancing guidelines,” Corn said.

On Saturday, May 9, at 10 a.m., CCAD plans to stream its graduation event on, featuring Dr. Corn, Provost Julie Taggart, and student leaders. Graduates will receive caps and gowns and are encouraged to celebrate with their family and friends in small groups on their own while sharing photos of themselves on their social media accounts with the hashtag #ccadlasts. Also, graduates will have the opportunity to celebrate with the Class of 2020 in person at an informal event in the fall.

“During drastic change and loss what people yearn for is a sense of community,” Donovan said. “Minecraft graduation may not replace the momentous feeling of walking across the physical stage, but it’s an opportunity for CCAD graduates to connect in a light-hearted way with their classmates. To feel that is what a lot of us need right now.”

To add to the celebration, CCAD Animation classes are developing a virtual space to provide graduating seniors a digital platform to celebrate their graduation. This multi-class world-building project will recreate the center of CCAD’s campus and will be an online game that students can hang out, play games, and have fun. For graduation day, there will be links to the virtual space and the Minecraft game at for seniors to check out. 

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* Note: This release has been updated as of April 14, 2020. 

About Columbus College of Art & Design 
Columbus College of Art & Design teaches undergraduate and graduate students in the midst of a thriving creative community in Columbus, Ohio. Founded in 1879, CCAD is one of the oldest private, nonprofit art and design colleges in the United States, offering 12 four-year undergraduate programs and two graduate programs in art and design that produce graduates equipped to shape culture and business at the highest level. For more information, visit

Minecraft screenshot
Prototype of Mershon Auditorium at The Ohio State University in Minecraft (Hannah Donovan)


Screenshot of CCAD Animation Classes Virtual Space
Snapshot of a virtual social gathering space, including dinosaurs, art galleries, corn hole and speeches, for Columbus College of Art & Design students. (CCAD Animation Department)

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