UGA announces plan for virtual December Commencement

The difficult decision was made with guidance from faculty, public health officials

The University of Georgia announced today that the fall 2020 undergraduate and graduate Commencement ceremonies, previously scheduled for Stegeman Coliseum on Dec. 18, 2020, will be held virtually.

This difficult decision was made after extensive dialogue with faculty leaders and public health officials to address concerns regarding the spread of COVID-19 in winter months. It aligns with prior guidance from public health officials that led UGA to move classes online for the remainder of fall semester following the Thanksgiving break.

Commencement planners received input from faculty on the Educational Affairs Committee of University Council as well as physicians, epidemiologists, public health officials and other members of UGA’s Preventative Measures Advisory Board.

“Many of those with whom we consulted pointed to the risk of viral spread if students and their families traveled back to Athens in the midst of the holiday season, after having been home for Thanksgiving,” said S. Jack Hu, UGA Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost. “With that in mind, our planners considered several options, but the size of UGA’s graduating classes, coupled with social distancing requirements, made it impractical to schedule multiple days of smaller indoor ceremonies in December or at a later date.”

UGA has examined planning underway across the nation at other colleges and universities over the past several months. Numerous other flagship public institutions with large graduating classes are also turning to virtual ceremonies this fall, including Florida, South Carolina, Penn State and Wisconsin.

“We realize that the news of a virtual Commencement ceremony will be reassuring to some graduates and their families but disappointing to others, particularly the graduate and professional students whose original Commencement ceremony was postponed in May,” said UGA President Jere W. Morehead. “However, the safety of our students and their families in this challenging time was at the forefront of this decision. Our Commencement planners will now strive to find ways to celebrate the occasion that are distinctive, meaningful and memorable for our graduates.”

The university’s fall Commencement plans include:

  • A virtual undergraduateCommencement ceremony, scheduled for Friday, Dec. 18, 2020.
  • A separate virtual graduate Commencement ceremony for fall and spring 2020 master’s and doctoral degree candidates, also scheduled for Friday, Dec. 18, 2020. (The ceremony for spring 2020 master’s and doctoral degree candidates was previously rescheduled to be held in combination with fall 2020 graduate)
  • A unique, celebratory gift to be mailed to each graduate eligible to participate in these two ceremonies.

Planners will continue to coordinate with UGA’s colleges and schools as they also prepare to honor graduates while keeping public health and safety considerations in mind.

At this time, no decisions have been made regarding plans for spring 2021 undergraduate and graduate Commencement ceremonies. UGA will continue to monitor changing health conditions and consult with public health officials regarding upcoming ceremonies for spring graduates.

More details on the fall Commencement undergraduate and graduate ceremonies will be posted in the coming weeks at commencement.uga.edu.

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