West Virginia University will hold a virtual commencement for its December graduates as it continues to emphasize student safety in the midst of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
University officials said 2,680 students — from the August and December 2020 classes — are scheduled to graduate Dec. 19 in 14 online commencement ceremonies.
“Once our fall academic schedule was released and it was noted that students would not be returning after the Thanksgiving break, the university felt it was not in the best interest of the public’s health and safety to host an in-person commencement,” WVU’s Special Events Coordinator Lisa Martin said in an email.
The university’s spring commencement was also held online because of COVID-19 concerns.
The Dec. 19 commencement will include remarks from Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Maryanne Reed, and President Gordon Gee will confer degrees and address graduates. The names of the graduates will simultaneously scroll across the screen as they are read aloud. Ceremonies will conclude with the singing of “Country Roads” and a virtual tassel turn.
The keynote speaker will be West Virginia native Brad Smith, the former Inuit president and CEO who serves as its board chairman. In October, Smith and his wife, Alys, gave the university a $25 million donation to fund a remote worker program to jump-start the state’s economy, as well as develop a world-class recreational infrastructure and expand outdoor educational opportunities through the recently created Brad and Alys Smith Outdoor Economic Development Collaborative.
Martin said it is too soon to say if the spring graduation ceremony will also be virtual.
“We are always hopeful we will be able to celebrate our 2020 and 2021 graduates in person next year,” she said. “More information will be available as it is confirmed on our graduation website, graduation.wvu.edu.”