The University of Wyoming will not hold its traditional spring commencement ceremonies in May, due to concerns about large gatherings related to the novel coronavirus COVID-19.
Instead, the university is making plans for a virtual ceremony to be broadcast live Saturday, May 16. And other options are being developed for UW’s spring 2020 graduates to celebrate their accomplishments.
“Spring commencement is one of the great traditions of the university, something we all look forward to every year. The decision to modify the ceremonies this year is challenging for everyone,” Acting President Neil Theobald says. “However, under the circumstances, we really have no choice but to look for alternatives to the public gatherings on campus — just as other universities across the country are doing. Our primary focus is on the health of our graduates, their family and friends, and the hosting community in Laramie.”
While details of the virtual ceremony are in planning — more information on how students and families can participate will be communicated later — there are other options for members of the May 2020 graduating class.
First, they have the ability to return for a future spring or winter commencement ceremony. In fact, this is a practice that has been in place for many years at UW.
“UW allows graduates who are not able to participate in their own commencement ceremony — due to a variety of circumstances, such as internships, study-abroad opportunities and illness — to participate in a later ceremony that is convenient for them,” Acting Vice President for Student Affairs Kim Chestnut says. “This spring’s graduates can participate in the winter 2020 or spring 2021 ceremonies, if they wish.”
Additionally, UW is repurposing its spring 2020 commencement budget to purchase and deliver keepsakes for graduates, their families and friends. These commencement packages each will include a mortar board, tassel and stole so that graduates can have a “tassel-turning” moment during the virtual ceremony and take photographs. Those students graduating with honors could receive appropriate cords, and graduate students could receive hoods and tams. UW will not provide graduation robes, but they can be purchased if students want them.
Students will receive more information about how to opt in to a commencement package via their UW email accounts next week. Students who already have ordered regalia will be contacted directly by the University Store.
“Nothing is the same as walking across the stage in front of your family and friends, but we hope these options will allow our graduates to still create and preserve memories marking their hard work and achievements,” Chestnut says.