Colleges postpone graduation plans

Bellarmine and Spalding universities will delay plans for commencement ceremonies, according to announcements from the two institutions.

Bellarmine announced plans to host a commencement ceremony Dec. 19 at Freedom Hall for those who would have received diplomas this spring, including spring 2020, fall 2019 and summer 2019 graduates.

The university also hosted an online “Toast to Graduates” event on Facebook May 9, the original date of graduation. The university would have conferred 913 degrees to new graduates on that date.

“We couldn’t let the original date go by without acknowledging and celebrating this class and all the hard work they’ve done to get to this point,” said Dr. Paul Gore, vice president for academic affairs and provost. “That work has been particularly challenging this semester, as everyone moved off campus and instruction moved online.”

The class of 2020 “approached these changes with resilience and resourcefulness, and with our dedicated faculty, they have maintained the ties of Bellarmine community even while apart,” he said.

The “Toast to Graduates” included remarks by John Lansing, a 2009 graduate and chief executive officer of NPR, who was the scheduled commencement speaker.

Speakers also included Dr. Gore; graduating senior Mary Wurtz of Crestview, Ky.; Dr. OJ Oleka; and Dr. Susan M. Donovan, Bellarmine president.

Bellarmine has also created a graduation web page, which features profiles of some of the class of 2020 and other commencement-related content at bellarmine.edu/commencement-2020.

Spalding, whose original commencement ceremony was scheduled for June 6, plans to hold an in-person ceremony later this summer or fall with exact dates to be determined.

In a letter to students, Spalding President Dr. Tori Murden McClure said that instead of a university-wide ceremony in which a few thousand people gather in the same church sanctuary, the university plans to hold a series of smaller ceremonies for individual academic disciplines, likely spread out over multiple dates and venues around campus.

“This approach will help us limit the number of people who are on campus or at a single venue at the same time,” she said.

These smaller ceremonies, the letter said, will be similar to the school-specific ones traditionally held on the Friday before commencement.

“Though they’ll occur later than initially planned, we hope these smaller ceremonies will be meaningful, memorable opportunities for graduates to celebrate their achievements with the classmates and faculty who know them best,” the letter said.

The letter also said that Spalding will only move forward with in-person ceremonies if it is safe to do so.

“If conditions regarding the coronavirus do not improve by fall, we may stage a virtual commencement,” Murden McClure said.

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