Updated April 26, 2020 at 1:31 p.m. with information on the graduation planning committee.
President Connie Book hosted a virtual town hall with students via WebEx. A panel of students joined Book to discuss Elon University’s response to the coronavirus, which is also known as COVID-19.
The financial state of the university was one concern addressed at the town hall. According to Book, the board of trustees has required the university to create a monetary reserve for emergencies for over 50 years. Book said that this reserve has allowed the university to not lay-off university employees, including student workers, and allows pandemic leave through the end of the spring semester.
In the town hall, Book said that students will be returning for the fall semester. Elon is in its fifth week of online classes due to precautions against the coronavirus and on April 20, Book announced a 22-member Task Force on Fall Semester chaired by President Emeritus Leo Lambert.
“We will come back in the fall and it will look different,” Book said. “We’re going to have to accommodate the CDC guidelines in our model.”
Book said the task force is also making contingency plans, but they’re making their recommendation for the fall by the end of May to prepare for the fall semester during the summer.
For Senior Fredrick Evans, who was a student panelist, it is important for him to maintain motivation to finish his last year strong.
“My professors out there, they won’t let me give up. They won’t let me stop short,” Evans said. “So I think just telling myself I want to finish strong is just kind of what’s getting me through right now.”
Commencement, which was originally on May 22, is postponed until an unknown date. According to Book, a committee — with student representatives — is planning an in-person graduation celebration for a later date. Book said that degrees will still be conferred on May 22 and mailed to graduates.
Evans said he hopes to maintain the traditions of graduation like receiving an oak sapling and graduating under the oaks.
“There’s some type of pride that we have in all traditions that we do so it may not look like they way it was supposed to look on May 22,” Evans said. “It’s gonna look different, of course everything’s gonna look different now, but we’re going to stay true to our traditions.”