2020 commencement postponed, alternate events planned


Since NVU’s initial move to remote instruction on March 12, seniors from both campuses have raised the question on social media: “What about graduation?” In fact, nearly 400 people have signed NVU-J senior Matt Allen’s petition on Change.org, titled, “Demand A Graduation Ceremony @ NVU.”

“We, as a student body, do not take the threat of coronavirus lightly,” he wrote, “and those of us minimally affected by the transition to distance learning appreciate the prompt action by the administration to keep us all safe. But after four (or more, or less) years of work to get to this point we would like a promise from you, the administration, to provide us with our commencement ceremony.”

“Consider the number of first-generation students earning their degrees between our two campuses and the people who have maintained their dream of graduating from college since they were children,” the petition continued. “Consider those of us who have worked to pay our way along this journey and the number of us who will continue to pay for our time here. Consider the parents who may not get to see their children walk across that stage, and the grandparents, too.”

In an email to students, faculty and staff on March 24, NVU President Elaine Collins wrote, “Seniors, know that we will honor your graduation. We will honor the hard work… with a commencement ceremony for May 2020 graduates in May 2021.”

Considering the rescheduled date, NVU-J senior Athena Parke said, “I’m bitter, and there’s no way around it. I hate the idea of having so many of my friends choose to not come back and walk, as I know many will do, simply due to the money it costs to travel. I hate having to share a weekend or season with the class of 2021. I think it’s unfair that the December graduating class will have their ceremony before us. However, I understand that it’s probably too risky to have a ceremony in the fall when there’s predicted to be another wave of COVID.”

Catie Roman, another NVU-J senior, said, “I understand why it’s happening then, but I wish they would look into doing it in later summer or early fall. I know it’s not the norm, but nothing is at this point.”

A rumor spread across Facebook stated that the ceremonies on each campus would be held at the same time, but Marketing and Communications Director Sylvia Plumb clarified that the commencements for each year would be held at different times.

“The Johnson 2020 speaker has committed for next year’s 2020 ceremony,” wrote Plumb in an email on April 7. “The Lyndon 2020 speaker can’t commit to next year’s date at this time.”

Collins also mentioned that senior slideshows will be created for each campus and featured alongside other virtual celebrations.

“We will be doing a virtual graduation celebration on each campus on the dates and times originally scheduled for the official commencement ceremonies in May,” Plumb wrote. “Please stay tuned for an announcement about those celebrations. We are committed to recognizing NVU graduates this May.”

Other awards ceremonies, such as Honors Convocation, will not be held synchronously. Provost Nolan Atkins said that a program of the convocation will be posted on the NVU website instead.

After the virtual ceremonies in May, graduates will receive their diplomas in the mail approximately six weeks afterward.

According to Plumb, more information will be forthcoming about the ceremonies scheduled for May 16 and 17 for each campus.