May 2020 graduates received an email regarding commencement on April 21.
Although the May ceremonies were canceled, graduating seniors were invited to attend the December ceremonies if they so choose.
Jim Dwyer, the executive director of Alumni Relations, said the university’s initial thought was to postpone the May ceremonies until August. The plan was changed to adhere to the CDC’s guidelines for gatherings.
“We’ve tried to have something,” Dwyer said. “(The graduates) are due a celebration. … Some came here four, five years ago. They were looking forward to graduation and it’s not happening.”
Dwyer explained that, like many other events that have been cancelled due to the COVID-19 outbreak, graduation ceremonies were taken for granted.
“No one could have predicted this,” he said. “Everyone’s disappointed, but we’re doing our best. Some universities are only doing virtual ceremonies. We’re trying to do more.”
Seniors were also sent a form for their grad boxes. The boxes, which include students’ caps, gowns, cords and other celebratory items, are available for curbside pickup or mailing.
The form also asked students to note if they would be interested in walking at the December ceremonies, if the CDC allows large gatherings at that time.
In the initial response, the majority of seniors said they would consider walking in December, Dwyer said.
“We’re not there yet, working out the details, but getting that initial response was impressive,” he said. “We got close to 500 responses, and that’s good. … The one thing that’s been very clear to me is how much students were looking forward to graduation.”
Dwyer said President Bachand is in the process of pulling together a committee of graduating seniors to provide input.
“We want to provide (the seniors) with what they missed,” he said. “We want them to have a say in what happens in December. There’s a real sensitivity to this, and a commitment to understand students’ emotions.”
Adam Baker, a business administration senior set to graduate in May, said he understood it was necessary to delay commencement for people’s safety.
“I have no problem waiting until December or even 2021 to walk,” Baker said. “However, I’m disappointed that the university chose to combine the ceremonies. … [I’m] sad that after five years of work, I’m not even excited anymore because of their decision.”
Dwyer said he remains hopeful they will be able to give graduates a traditional ceremony.
“We are committed to doing the best we can so (seniors) can get their ceremony,” he said. “We’re working out the details.”