WCU delays decision on date for rescheduled spring commencement exercises

Western Carolina University officials are continuing to monitor the spread of COVID-19 across North Carolina and have delayed a decision on when to reschedule spring commencement ceremonies originally set for May 8 and 9 but postponed in the wake of the global health crisis.

University officials had announced on March 20 the postponement of May commencement exercises, with the hopes of being able to set a new date by Friday, April 3.

In light of recent predictions from public health officials indicating that the peak of the virus’s spread across North Carolina may not arrive until late April or early May and given Gov. Roy Cooper’s statewide “stay home, stay safe” order, which remains in effect at least until April 30, the university has been forced to delay that decision, WCU Chancellor Kelli R. Brown said in a message to campus.

“To students and their families, we want you to know that we are absolutely committed to hosting in-person commencement ceremonies so that we can celebrate this important milestone together,” Brown said. “We fully understand that you are anxious to know when we will hold these on-campus events, but the fluid nature of this global health crisis means that we simply are not in a position to make a decision today with any degree of certainty. Indeed, it may be a number of weeks before we can definitely set a new date.”

Brown and other campus leaders are looking at tentative dates for rescheduled spring semester commencement exercises in early August or mid-December, depending upon where things stand with the coronavirus.

“We will set a firm date for the rescheduled spring commencement ceremonies in the weeks ahead, and will do so in consultation with public health officials, the University of North Carolina System and state leaders,” she said. “For those of you on track to graduate at the end of this semester, I am looking forward to the time when this pandemic has passed and I can acknowledge you as you walk across that stage at commencement.”

Students who complete all academic requirements for graduation at the end of the spring semester will be awarded their degrees and will be able to request official transcripts after all degrees have been certified by the WCU registrar.