Because of concerns about the novel coronavirus pandemic, West Virginia University officials said the university will hold a virtual commencement for May graduates and give them the option of also participating in person at the December commencement.
The online commencement, dubbed Mountaineer Graduation Day, will be May 16. Potomac State College in Keyser and WVU Tech in Beckley will announce their own commencement plans separately.
“You are truly a special class,” WVU President Gordon Gee said in a letter and video to the class of 2020. “And this experience will be just one of many that will shape you throughout your life. Though the time in which we find ourselves is one of the most challenging our nation has ever faced, we know that our campus, our state and our country will come together again — stronger and more resilient than ever before. After all, we are Mountaineers.”
WVU will release details of the online commencement by early April. The university said the event will include ways for graduates to celebrate with family and friends.
Spring semester classes at WVU are now mostly online — with a few exceptions — because of COVID-19. The campus is closed to the public and the students are at their homes. About 120 students — a mix of domestic and international students — are still on campus and are housed in three dormitories.
WVU is not the only major university to announce plans for an online commencement. Johns Hopkins University, the University of Iowa, the University of Denver and Virginia Tech have said they will hold virtual ceremonies.
In making its announcement, Virginia Tech said its graduation will begin in the morning and include welcoming comments, speeches, awards, and the conferring of degrees. The May graduates have been invited back for a football game in September that includes a special tailgate.