Due to the COVID-19 situation, Commencement 2020 was postponed until December. Following the rules of Governor Ralph Norhtham, the university has decided to continue with Commencement. “In April we met (virtually) with several seniors who were campus leaders to get their feedback on commencement. Obviously cancelling or postponing commencement is a big deal, so we wanted to be sure that we sought the perspective of our students on this,” Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Maynard Schaus said. Schaus also expressed that postponing Commencement for December was a collective decision that senior students and school faculty agreed on. He also added that students said, “this way all of the 2020 graduates can walk together.”
The procedures for Commencement this year are more strict than in other years. According to the VWU website, the commencement ceremonies will be held in five different ceremonies, one for each of its academic schools. Those planning to attend these ceremonies in person, have to have their masks on during the entirety of the event.
“I am most looking forward to seeing our graduates walk across the stage with their masks on,” Schaus said. “This past year has been so difficult for them, but for me, seeing them get to that point demonstrates their perseverance and our collective ability to educate our students in the face of the pandemic.”
Graduates and their guests are welcome to attend in person, however, graduates will be limited to three guest tickets each. “Unfortunately, with the governor’s order limiting gathering sizes to 250 participants total (graduates, guests, and campus participants), we are unable to include everyone in the same ceremony,” Schaus said. He also added, “I think it is worth it for the graduates to be able to participate in-person and have some guests attend to see them graduate in person.” Students had until Oct. 16 to confirm their in-person attendance, by completing a form.
The ceremonies will be held here on campus either in TowneBank Arena in the Jane P. Batten Student Center or the Joan and Macon Brock Theatre in the Susan S. Goode Fine and Performing Arts Center.
Once the number of graduates is complete, the location for each ceremony will be confirmed. According to the VWU website, the VWU Global Campus (MBA and MaEd graduates) ceremony will be held on Saturday, December, 5 2020 at 5:00 p.m. On Sunday, December, 6 2020, most of these ceremonies will have a two hours difference between them including for the Birdsong School of Social Science, Susan S. Goode School of Arts and Humanities, D. Henry Watts School of Professional Studies and Joan P. Brock School of Mathematics and Natural Sciences. The first ceremony will start at 9:00 a.m. and the last one is scheduled at 4:00 p.m. The speaker for Commencement will be the President of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Will Baker.
Senior India Khanna expressed that these actions taken by VWU are not irresponsible because a lot of students want to have their commencement ceremony, just like others did in the past. “People want to have that and show their parents that they did it,” Khanna said. “However, I think it is going to be difficult trying to get people what they want and at the same time, staying safe.”
She thinks that although the school is taking all the strict guidelines in order to realize these ceremonies, there still is a risk for people. “As long as they do not have the previous ticket policies, students should be fine,” Khanna said. Although students will be asked to only bring three guests, these ceremonies will be livestreamed on the VWU Digital Broadcasting Network for the benefit of other people that would like to view these ceremonies.
By Steven Serrano Cruz