University plans virtual ceremony set for Saturday
For the 4,500 members of West Virginia University’s class of 2020, Saturday’s virtual commencement will be a first.
The university said back in March — when the COVID-19 pandemic first struck the state — that it was moving the graduation ceremony to a virtual event because of health concerns and joining colleges and universities throughout the state and the country that made similar moves, including Bethany College, Marshall University and the University of Pittsburgh.
The WVU commencement begins at 11 a.m. Saturday and can be accessed at wvu.stageclip.com. No login or password is required and there is no limit on viewers. Prior to Saturday’s event, graduates were asked to upload a 10-second video or a photo with a text message.
Families can share the content on social media after the ceremony by using the hashtag #WVUgrad. The event will also be available in the university’s commencement archive and on the WestVirginiaU You Tube Channel.
Commencement speakers include WVU Vice President and Executive Dean for Health Sciences Clay Marsh, who is also heading up the state’s COVID-19 response. Former state Rep., Meshea Moore, a lawyer and WVU’s vice president of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, is also scheduled to speak.
Country music star Brad Paisley, a native of Marshall County, will be awarded an honorary degree, and will make brief remarks from his home to the graduates during the 30-minute commencement exercise. And lastly President Gordon Gee will give the newly minted graduates some words of wisdom and “Country Roads” will be sung.
“Our May 2020 graduates are living through the most unpredictable period of their lives, but the COVID-19 pandemic will not define them,” Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Maryanne Reed said. “They have persevered through years of higher education and are embarking on a world different from when they started.”
WVU said it also launched a special augmented reality filter on Instagram, which will outfit graduates in mortarboards to receive their diplomas. Other templates on the university’s Instagram page give students an opportunity to share memories and show how they have changed from freshman to senior year in the “Then and Now” feature.
May graduates are also invited back to celebrate at the WVU Coliseum during the Dec. 19 winter commencement.
The WVU campus in Morgantown and its branch campuses in Beckley and Keyser have been closed to the public since the end of March. The university, however, has said it will hold a combination of in-person and on-line instruction when the fall semester begins.