Some 5,000 students are set to graduate Friday from Virginia Tech, less than a month after a student killed himself and 32 other people in two university buildings.
The former commander of U.S. military forces in the Middle East, Retired Army General John Abizaid, is to be the featured speaker at the ceremony. He is expected to honor of the dead and their families in his speech.
University officials say the victims who were seniors will be awarded posthumous degrees.
The university has increased security for the event, warning visitors on its Web site that police presence will be stepped up and all people and handbags will be searched. It says as many as 30,000 people may attend graduation events.
Many students have told reporters they plan to try to enjoy the ceremony and focus on good memories of their college experience, rather than dwell on the tragedy that took place April 16.
Some information for this report was provided by AP.