University postpones graduation ceremony, will still give diplomas in May


This article is a part of the Trinitonian’s coverage of Trinity University’s response to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). Click here to read the rest of our coverage.

Imagine: President Danny Anderson decked out in regalia, standing at a podium in Laurie Auditorium with the march “Pomp and Circumstance” playing over the speakers. He’s about to speak of the past four years of accomplishments, successes and experiences the Class of 2020 has had.

This moment is what many seniors and graduate students expected to see live and in-person on May 16. But instead, they’re at home, probably watching it on their laptop screens, in a video sent to announce the new dates for a postponed commencement ceremony.

On April 6, the university finally answered the question that every senior and graduate student was asking: What’s going to happen with graduation?

“While we may not be together in person on May 16, we are finding new ways to celebrate you, the Class of 2020,” Anderson’s email read.

The university will host a traditional ceremony, but instead of the usual mid-May date, the event will be held on Saturday, August 8.

“This is your chance to walk the stage with fellow graduates in the Class of 2020,” the email read. “We will also spend time together that weekend celebrating time-honored, treasured Trinity traditions, including the senior tower climb, the honor awards ceremony, baccalaureate vespers and special commencements.”

Fortunately, seniors won’t have to wait until August to get their diplomas: The university will virtually confer degrees on May 16, the original graduation date. There are no specific times or details for the event yet.

Though the university made its first campus-wide decision regarding the coronavirus pandemic in the beginning of March, a final decision about commencement was held off. Still, the decision may not be final.

“We understand that social public health conditions may force us to reevaluate these plans. Trinity is committed to informing you of any changes to these plans as soon as feasibly possible,” Anderson wrote.

The decision was the culmination of work done by the university’s Commencement Committee, according to Anderson.

“This committee of faculty, staff and students listened with open minds and hearts to the concerns of our graduating class, and they are bringing creativity, compassion and innovative thinking to these plans,” Anderson wrote.

According to vice president for Strategic Communications and Marketing Tess Coody-Anders, the decision-making process took time because the committee wanted to allow students to celebrate together and in-person.

“We’re all really concerned about the senior experience, taken more holistically, and so a lot of time was put into involving students and getting their input and sort of testing various ideas with student leaders and others so that we could take the best possible decision given the circumstances,” Coody-Anders said.

Coody-Anders acknowledged that the situation is less than ideal but believes the decision is the best possible one considering the circumstances.

“No one wants to have to do it this way, but we absolutely intend to be
hyperfocused on celebrating the Class of 2020 in ways that honor their
achievements and continue to make them feel as special as they should,
even in the middle of a global crisis that has taken so much from them
this year,” Coody-Anders said.