Rowan University postpones commencement to late summer

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President Ali A. Houshmand speaks at the main ceremony of Rowan University graduation 2018. - Editor-In-Chief / Miguel Martinez

The class of 2020’s commencement will be postponed until later this summer in response to the rapid spread of COVID-19, according to an email from Rowan University President Ali Houshmand.

“Each year, it is my honor to welcome thousands of graduates to celebrate with their loved ones and our academic community at Commencement festivities,” Houshmand’s email read. “This year, amid the coronavirus pandemic, I am disappointed to announce that we must postpone Commencement.”

Although the physical commencement will be postponed, the university still plans to honor the graduating seniors this coming May.

“We will hold a virtual ceremony of sorts to officially confer degrees and recognize the Class of 2020,” Houshmand said. “Students’ transcripts will reflect their achievements at the end of the semester and we will issue diplomas, as usual.”

While the university is planning the physical commencement ceremony for the late summer, Houshmand admitted the plan could change given the spread of the disease, which has prompted strict social-distancing regulations throughout the state and a formal state of emergency across the nation.

“To the members of the Class of 2020, please know I am proud of you and look forward to celebrating your achievements,” Houshmand said. “However, I encourage you to stay focused and finish the semester strong.”

The ceremony will follow tradition, calling graduates individually to the stage during the program. Although the postponement is disappointing to many students, the decision is in line with the decision-making of other institutions of higher education.

Students have mixed feelings about the decision. Kristen Iacoponi, a 22-year-old psychology major, is disappointed.

“I’m pissed, but I get it,” Iacoponi said. “I’ve worked so hard to get here and it sucks for it to be taken away.”

The University of Michigan was one of the first universities to postpone commencement, announcing the decision on March 13. In the week since, more schools have followed suit, including Baylor University and Ohio State University. University of Pennsylvania, John Hopkins University and Virginia Tech have chosen to hold virtual commencements. Many schools have canceled commencement outright, including Brigham Young University, the University of Georgia and the University of Alabama.

Students at Georgetown University have begun a petition to postpone their commencement rather than cancel or hold it virtually. It has garnered nearly 12,000 signatures since launching on March 17.

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