Letter to December 2019/May 2020 Graduating Students:
I am very sad to inform you that, after consulting with campus and system leadership, I have decided to postpone our 2020 Spring Commencement ceremony, which was originally scheduled for Wednesday, May 13. The Annual Awards Ceremony on Friday, May 1, as well as PN and RN Pinning Ceremonies on Friday, May 8 have been cancelled. 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 spring commencement ceremonies and cancelling the other 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.
I want to be very clear for our Spring Semester graduates. First, your commencement ceremony is postponed, not cancelled. Our plan is to hold the 2020 Spring Commencement at a time and in a way that is both safe and special for you and your family. We do not have a date at this time but will inform you as soon as a decision has been made. 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 onto a four-year institution 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.
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 is 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 transfer arrangements. The Registrar’s Office will also be reaching out to all students who have filed for Spring 2020 Commencement with more details as they become available.
Graduating students, I am so sorry to make this announcement today. My favorite event each year is 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 and your family come first.
Sending my best,