Graduates, family and friends fill Brenau's front campus for the Brenau University Graduate and Undergraduate Commencement ceremony. (AJ Reynolds/Brenau University)

Spring commencement ceremonies postponed

Mar 30, 2020
Kristen Bowman

The Provost’s Office at Brenau University announced Monday, March 30, that the spring commencement ceremonies previously scheduled for Friday and Saturday, May 1-2, would not be canceled but simply postponed until the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis has subsided.

“Many colleges and universities across the United States have decided to cancel their ceremonies, but at Brenau, we understand the importance of celebrating the many accomplishments of our academic community, particularly our students,” said Provost Jim Eck in a letter to students, faculty and staff. “We look forward to an opportunity to gather together, and to convene graduation with our faculty, staff, students and their families.”

Eck said the university will schedule commencement after the university can safely resume large gatherings. The date and details will be shared with students and their families as soon as possible after the decision is made.

Brenau, which started offering online courses in the 1990s, moved on-ground classes to its online learning platform last Monday, March 23. Eck said the transition has been smooth, due in great part to the university’s long history with online education.

Dr. Gale Starich, dean of the Ivester College of Health Sciences, said she’s been impressed with the work of her faculty to meet learning outcomes and give students a venue to express concerns and receive encouragement.

Dr. Suzanne Erickson, dean of the College of Business & Communication, agreed.

“We’ve taught online for a long time, so we know what we are doing and there is essentially no difference in the education we can provide,” Erickson said. “Except now we’re teaching students across four continents. We’ve opened our education to the world, and the coronavirus can’t stop us.”

Assistant Professor of Music Bobby Ivey creatively adapted his courses for online. Many of his students’ spring concerts and recitals were canceled, but he’s ensuring they can still perform through Zoom video performances, the Acapella app and some critical listening projects.

“We will do some different, unusual assignments to make it work!” he said.

Eck thanked students for their efforts to meet graduation requirements through these challenging finals weeks of the semester and added that the delayed commencement ceremony will give extra time to those students who may need to complete clinical experiences, internships, and student teaching requirements. 

“Our plan is to schedule commencement at such a time that students who would have been eligible to graduate in May will still have time to become eligible to graduate at the upcoming commencement,” Eck said. “The moment degree requirements are completed, however, your degree will be conferred and your transcripts updated.

“The university looks forward to sharing this special day with you and your family at our historic campus, with all of the pomp and circumstance that has typically defined our outdoor spring commencement.”