For a second time this year, commencement ceremonies at Slippery Rock University will be altered due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In an email sent out to university stakeholders Tuesday morning, the university said it will be hosting its winter commencement ceremony virtually Sept. 8 at 10 a.m.
The university said the decision was made to move the commencement online due to the current restrictions on public gatherings indoors set by the Pennsylvania Department of Health.
In the email, SRU President William Behre said the virtual format would not be able to replace gathering in person, but it will provide graduates a chance to celebrate their achievements with family and friends.
Robert King, associate executive director for communication and public affairs, said there will not be a limit to the number of people able to watch the commencement.
The ceremony will include addresses by Behre along with remarks from SRU Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Abbey Zink and the deans of the university’s four colleges. Along with the moving of the tassel and singing of the SRU alma mater, the names of all the graduates, including those who graduated in the spring, will scroll across the screen to end the event.
King said students who graduated in the spring and summer semesters will have their names automatically included.
SRU’s spring commencement ceremony was postponed back in March shortly after the campus announced it would move all face-to-face classes to remote instruction. In place of a ceremony, the university posted video tribute with a promise from Behre that there would be an in-person ceremony at a later date.
“Unfortunately, we simply haven’t yet reached that point,” said Behre. “As I stated in the spring, decisions like this are difficult and disappointing to make. And while we’re saddened that we cannot celebrate in person, we are impressed by the commitment, perseverance and dedication shown by our graduates to have accomplished so much in the face of these unprecedented times.”
Even with a virtual format this winter, Behre said he still plans on inviting 2020 graduates back to the campus for a proper ceremony.
Students who plan on graduating in December or January must apply online by Oct. 1. Students can apply online through their MySRU portal. Those applying after Oct. 1 will have to fill out a paper application and submit it via email to academic records.
More information about the commencement ceremony can be found on the SRU website.