South Carolina State University has announced it will hold a virtual commencement ceremony to confer degrees upon graduates of the institution’s class of 2020. The decision comes following the onset of the global Coronavirus pandemic that has resulted in strict national and statewide policies aimed at mitigating the spread of COVID-19.
“These are unprecedented times,” said university President James E. Clark. “This pandemic has forced us to live in a different way. That includes changing the ways we do everything, including our university events. Given that we don’t know when the virus threat will be over in our area and given the series of executive orders set forth by our governor, we have decided to conduct our Commencement ceremony virtually.”
University leaders have not yet set a date for the virtual graduation, which is expected to honor bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree recipients.
“Because we do not know if the country will conquer COVID-19 by July, August or even later, it is not wise for us to give students a date for when the next physical graduation will be held,” said university Provost and Academic Officer Dr. Learie Luke. “As it stands today, we are still under the governor’s executive order of no assembly larger than three people.”
Graduating seniors finishing up their final coursework remotely, are understandably disappointed about not having a ceremony complete with the pomp and circumstance characteristic of a commencement where family, friends and professors are present, but most understand and appreciate the need for a virtual event.
“We understand that a graduation ceremony is more than just important to our seniors and their families. It’s an event that is looked forward to and cherished,” said Student Government Association President Julie Sainyo. “We have worked hard and the university is without a doubt aware of that. We will have our time to walk across the stage and claim our victory. We will continue to see the positive in this negative course of events. We will stay positive, stay safe, adhere to social distancing guidelines and continue to fight the good fight as only a Bulldog knows how. I am beyond proud of the Class of 2020,” said Sainyo.
The university is now focused on planning and logistics for a virtual celebration that will be memorable for graduates and their families.
University leaders are also looking for opportunities beyond COVID-19 that will allow SC State to help shape the higher education narrative for how teaching and learning can evolve to deliver an even higher quality education, even in the face of catastrophic events.
For more information, contact Chaundra Mikell Yudchenko, public relations coordinator, at [email protected]