Dear Red Wolves:
I am very sad to inform you that, after consulting with campus leadership, I have decided to postpone our 2020 Spring Commencement ceremony, which was originally scheduled for Saturday, May 16. We have monitored the news from both a national and statewide perspective, and all signs point to us not being able to assemble for our two spring commencement ceremonies. While I have held out hope that things would clear up in time for us to hold the ceremony as planned, I am also aware that the longer we wait, the more complicated it is for everyone who is involved – especially those who have to travel long distances for the ceremony.
I want to be very clear for our Spring Semester graduates. First, your commencement ceremony is postponed, not canceled. Our plan is to hold the 2020 Spring Commencement on the same weekend as the August Commencement, which is currently scheduled for August 7. We will have more details for you on exact day and times as soon as our Academic Affairs team finalizes the logistics. Second, you are still graduating. Commencement is a celebratory ceremony, but it is not a requirement for graduation. That means you can continue to make your post-graduation plans, either going into graduate/professional school or into the workforce.
I know that this is a very disappointing announcement. I have dreaded this moment for weeks. But the newly extended timeline on social distancing rules and the pandemic’s projected trajectory in Arkansas leave us with no other choice at this point. While some schools are planning virtual ceremonies or outright canceling ceremonies, I personally believe that there is something very special about the physical act of walking across the stage, and I do not want our students and their families to lose that opportunity. Our faculty and staff also love the ceremony and enjoy seeing their students celebrate – almost as much as the students' parents do. So we will preserve the ceremony so that we can all meet again one last time to celebrate our graduates’ accomplishments.
I know that the August ceremony may not work for everyone, so all of our Spring 2020 graduates are also invited back to walk at a future commencement in December 2020 or in May 2021. Our Registrar’s Office will be reaching out to all students who have filed for Spring 2020 Commencement with more details soon, including asking when you would like to walk.
If you complete your degree requirements at the end of the Spring 2020 semester, your diplomas will be mailed to you a few weeks after the end of the semester (this the normal procedure). Also, our Registrar's Office is working on procedures to make transcripts available as quickly as possible for those who are needing to move forward to employment, certification examinations, or graduate school appointments.
Graduating seniors, I am so sorry to make this announcement today. My three favorite events each year are Spring, Summer and Fall Commencement. Nothing gives me greater pleasure than the celebration of your academic achievement. However, as we have seen all too painfully, both across America and right here in Arkansas, COVID-19 is an extremely contagious virus and there is so much uncertainty with what the future holds. The health and safety of you, your family, and our Red Wolves come first.