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Penn State Plans Virtual Commencement for May 9, ‘Exploring Options’ for Later In-Person Celebration

by on April 06, 2020 4:34 PM

Penn State will host a virtual commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 9, the university announced in an email to graduating seniors Monday. All undergraduate and Graduate School graduates will be honored at the ceremony, and individual colleges and campuses will plan complementary events to honor students on a more personal basis.

Commencement had already been postponed once the remainder of the spring semester was moved online because of the coronavirus pandemic on March 18. At a town hall last month, President Eric Barron introduced the idea of a two-phase commencement that included a virtual ceremony first and a potential in-person one at a later date.

“The sense of community among Penn Staters is one of the hallmarks of this university,” Barron wrote in the email to graduates. “While we cannot be together in person to mark your accomplishments, I hope that you, along with your friends and families will join us online to celebrate your academic achievements. This change to a virtual ceremony should not detract from the pride that you and your families should take in your accomplishments to earn your Penn State degree.”

The College of Medicine, Dickinson Law, Penn State Law, and Penn College will manage their own celebrations and communicate directly to their graduates.

The potential second phase was only briefly mentioned in the second-to-the-last paragraph of the email to students on Monday.

“We share your desire to come together in person, and are exploring options to invite graduates back to campus to be recognized for your accomplishments,” it said.

A subsequent university news release said Penn State "is committed to providing opportunities to invite the Class of 2020 back for in-person celebrations when public health guidelines allow."

“We recognize and share the interest of students to return to campus, to come together as a community to celebrate Penn State’s Class of 2020,” Barron said in the release. “A defining characteristic of Penn State is our community, and we can’t wait to welcome you back to your university, to put an exclamation point on your achievements.”

Anthony Colucci is a writer for Onward State
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