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Virtual commencement ceremony planned for Spring 2020 graduates

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The University of Louisiana at Lafayette will celebrate its spring graduating class with a virtual commencement on Friday, May 15.

Spring graduates are invited to walk at either the summer or fall commencement ceremony, wrote Dr. Joseph Savoie, UL Lafayette president, in an email to graduates on Thursday.

The decision to host a virtual commencement this spring is in response to the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic that has resulted in a ban on large gatherings to mitigate the virus’ spread.

“None of us could have anticipated the extraordinary events that have made it impossible to hold the General Assembly and college ceremonies next month at the Cajundome and other locations as planned. The COVID-19 pandemic we are experiencing has changed nearly every aspect of our lives, including time-honored University ceremonies such as commencement," Savoie wrote.

“But, your well-being, and that of your families, friends and our community as a whole, is simply something we will not endanger.”

UL Lafayette reached its decision to hold a virtual commencement following discussions with student leaders and representatives from each of the University’s academic colleges.

In addition, administrators analyzed data collected from a survey of graduating seniors conducted by the University’s Student Government Association.

The virtual commencement ceremony will include many of the same elements as the traditional, in-person event, including welcome and congratulatory messages from University administrators and college deans as well as a reading of the graduates’ names.

Graduates will also have an opportunity to submit photographs of themselves in their commencement regalia and record brief video messages to their families and friends. 

“It will have all of the pomp, circumstance and tradition of our typical commencement ceremonies. Your family and friends can enjoy the celebration regardless of their locations, and you will be able to share memories of the event on social media,” Savoie said.

Diplomas, commencement programs, and honor cords and medallions will be mailed to graduates the week following the virtual ceremony.

Information will be forthcoming about how graduates, their families, the University community and the public can watch and participate in the event.

In a separate email to graduates, Dr. DeWayne Bowie, vice president for Enrollment Management, reiterated Savoie’s message that spring graduates are invited to walk at commencement exercises later this year.

“We realize that a virtual ceremony cannot replace an in-person commencement. We are working diligently to make the virtual ceremony as special as possible with the use of current technology; however, you will be invited back to campus to participate in either the summer or fall 2020 commencement ceremonies. It will be your choice. 

“You will then have your opportunity to walk across the stage, be congratulated by your academic dean and celebrate with your family and friends,” Bowie wrote. 

Photo caption: UL Lafayette’s Spring 2020 graduates are invited to walk in either the summer or fall commencement exercises. But first, they’ll be recognized during a virtual commencement on May 15. (Photo credit: Rachel Rafati / University of Louisiana at Lafayette)