CANYON, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) – According to West Texas A&M University, after weeks of consideration officials have decided that the December 2020 graduation ceremonies will be held online.
“We realize that many students and their families still long for the traditional graduation ceremony. We do, too,” said University President Dr. Walter Wendler. “But with COVID-19 cases still skyrocketing, we cannot, in good conscious, host an in-person ceremony.”
The decision, says the University, comes after several discussions between administrators, community leaders, and health experts.
“We have been wrestling mightily with this,” Wendler said. “But we have to balance the very real possibility of widespread infections with the desire to gather together as Buffs to celebrate the December class of 2020.
“We understand the importance of in-person graduation, and we have tentative plans for small-scale ceremonies for the 2020 and 2021 graduates across multiple Fridays in March, April, and May,” Wendler said.
The University assures that students graduating in December may elect to attend the spring 2021 commencement ceremonies. Additional details will be released soon.
“We have weighed every option, including hosting six different ceremonies inside the First United Bank Center with a limited number of guests, or hosting one ceremony outside in Buffalo Stadium,” said Dr. Neil Terry, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs. “But we take our responsibility seriously to keep our students and their families safe when they’re on our campus, and we feel that the best way to do that is to hold a virtual ceremony.”
Faculty and student representatives are reported to support the decision.
“We know that we would risk hosting a super-spreader event should we have any kind of in-person commencement, and that’s not a risk worth taking in the middle of a pandemic,” said Jeffry Babb, Faculty Senate president. “Our virtual commencement ceremony in May was quite successful and celebrated our students and their accomplishments as best as possible in these circumstances. The faculty appreciates the administration’s careful consideration in this matter.”
“I know many of my fellow students were hoping for an in-person option,” said Seth Rodriguez, student body president, “but I hope we all understand that we have to look at the bigger picture and keep our loved ones and our community safe during these difficult times.”
WT says that it is committed to serving both the campus and community, as detailed in the long-term plan, WT 125: From the Panhandle to the World.
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