Updated on May 6 at 10:10 a.m. with information about the conferral ceremony.
Elon University is planning a virtual graduation for May 22, the date of the originally scheduled commencement. The virtual conferral ceremony will be in addition to an in-person celebration planned for this fall.
Elon University President Connie Book publicized the plans during an interview with Elon News Network.
“We want to acknowledge and have a day that we can all feel at least a sense of connection with each other for that achievement,” Book said. “We're trying to design it in a meaningful way, but not in a replacement way.”
The ceremony will be led by Book and livestreamed beginning Friday, May 22 at noon EST. Remarks from other university leaders and musical performances by members of the Class of 2020 will also be featured.
Following the livestream, the Class of 2020 will be emailed a digital copy of their diplomas. Physical diplomas will be sent by mail.
As for an in-person commencement planned for the fall, Book said they are considering upwards of five weekends including fall break and Homecoming weekend. Book said she is waiting for North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper to decide if and when large gatherings of crowds can occur. She hopes a decision can be made by early June.
“What I don't want to happen for seniors is that we release a date and then we amend the date,” Book said.
Currently, the school is looking at weekends to make the event most accessible to working students. While she hopes this will allow for graduation traditions to continue, Book said they are looking forward to new traditions as well.
“When the university burned in 1923, that's when they decided to have graduation under the oaks instead of inside the building,” Book said. “The committee is considering another great tradition that can be born out of the adversity of a pandemic.”
The plans for an in-person graduation ceremony were made public by Vice President for Student Life, Jon Dooley in a March 30 email.
“While diplomas will be conferred officially on the original date of May 22, we are committed to ensuring that the Class of 2020 and their families celebrate graduation together on campus,” Dooley said.