Colleges and universities postpone, cancel graduation ceremonies

A student at Urbana University walks past the arches on one of the residence hall as she makes her way across on campus Bill Lackey/Staff
A student at Urbana University walks past the arches on one of the residence hall as she makes her way across on campus Bill Lackey/Staff

Many area colleges and universities have postponed or canceled graduation ceremonies in light of the coronavirus outbreak.

Along with asking public and private colleges and universities to move to online learning, Gov. Mike DeWine has also restricted mass public gatherings in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Urbana University on Tuesday said it was postponing its graduation ceremony amid growing health concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the school.

“Commencement is an important milestone and as such, the decision to postpone the 2020 Commencement ceremony was a difficult one since we, like you, look forward to celebrating this day with you, and your family and friends,” the college said in a statement.

The graduation, planned for May 9, will be held at a later date yet to be determined.

Graduates will still have their degrees conferred on May 9 and diplomas will be mailed out shortly after.

“These are extraordinary times and we are dealing with an unprecedented national health emergency,” the statement said. “A team of campus leaders representing all areas of operations has been working diligently to respond to the situation and will communicate any updates as they become available.”

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Other colleges and universities have followed suit as a precaution as well.

Clark State Community College on Monday postponed graduation until August as a precaution of the coronavirus, according to a release from the school.

“This decision was made out of an abundance of caution, a desire to keep the Clark State community safe, and prevent the spread of COVID-19,” said Dr. Jo Alice Blondin, president of Clark State.

The graduation ceremony, scheduled for May 9, is now scheduled to take place on Saturday, Aug. 15.

“We know that these are critical times for students, and we will continue to be diligent in ensuring and supporting their success during this unprecedented situation,” Blondin said. “We also wish to alleviate the uncertainty around important campus milestones such as graduation and reassure students and employees that we will return to normal operations as soon as possible.”

Wright State University on Tuesday postponed its spring graduation ceremony.

“This one cuts deep, as commencement is how we come together to celebrate the accomplishments of our graduating seniors and graduate students,” said President Sue Edwards.

The May 2 graduation will be rescheduled for a later date yet to be decided.

“The university will hold a graduation celebration for the class of 2020, on a date yet to be determined,” Edwards said. “I sincerely understand that this is a very special day for all graduating students and their families, which is why we will work together to identify the best solution to this temporary disruption.”

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Central State University’s graduation ceremony on May 9 is being reviewed.

“Traditional Commencement activities as previously planned are being reviewed against new, mandated crowd compliance guidelines,” said President Cynthia Jackson-Hammond. “We will continue to think creatively about providing a wonderful experience for graduates and their families. When new plans are confirmed, graduating seniors will be contacted.”

The University of Dayton is waiting to make an official call regarding the graduation ceremonies scheduled for May 9 and 10.

President Eric Spina said if a decision did need to be made at some point to cancel commencement, the university will try to find a future date to gather the seniors back on campus for a graduation celebration.

“We are especially empathetic toward seniors, understanding how important this last semester is for all of you,” Spina said in a letter addressed to students. “No one wants to end the semester with an empty campus, and many of us would join you and your fellow classmates in tears if that happened. We plan to hold off on any significant decisions as long as we can and allow public health officials to guide us about a date when students can return to campus.”

Wittenberg University has not announced any changes to its graduation, now scheduled for May 16.

Wilberforce University will keep its scheduled graduation ceremony on May 9.

“At this time, Commencement 2020 is still scheduled to occur on May 9, 2020,” said President Elfred Anthony Pinkard. “We will continue to monitor coronavirus and will make decisions based on the most recent and available information from credible and well-respected sources about the virus and its transmission.”

Cedarville University’s graduation ceremony is on schedule for May 2.