Coronavirus: Wright State can’t hold in-person commencement, opts for virtual ceremony

Coronavirus: Wright State can’t hold in-person commencement, opts for virtual ceremony
Wright State University. (Jim Witmer)

FAIRBORN — Wright State will not be able to hold an in-person commencement ceremony for the spring Class of 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic and has decided instead to offer a virtual ceremony Oct. 24, university President Sue Edwards said late Monday afternoon.

Unfortunately, she said in an email to Wright State graduates and their families, large gatherings are still prohibited by the state and all official in-person university events remain postponed.

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The ceremony will celebrate Dayton Campus Spring 2020 graduates and Lake Campus Summer 2019 through Spring 2020 graduates.

More information about the virtual commencement will be available soon. The name of every graduate will be read immediately following the ceremony.

To make the event inclusive and fun, Edwards said, Wright State has asked graduates for a photo in their graduation apparel or Wright State gear. Submitted photos may be used during the virtual experience, on the website, and/or university social media. Those headed for graduation are asked to email a photo to no later than Sept. 27.

"When I announced that Wright State University had to postpone its spring 2020 commencement ceremony, I promised that we would hold an in-person event to celebrate with you and your families, Edwards said in the email.

“I know this news is not what you wanted to hear, and I apologize to each of you and your families. The overwhelming majority of graduating students told us in the spring you did not want a virtual graduation ceremony,” Edwards said.

“A committee of students, faculty, and staff worked for months on contingency plans for some form of face-to-face celebration. But as we entered the fall semester, I decided it was more important to hold a virtual event before the end of the year to celebrate our graduates and your hard work.”

Wright State did not hold a spring commencement ceremony May 2, but some departments held virtual events for graduates. In a video message played for students graduating from the Department of Theatre, Dance and Motion Pictures, Oscar winner Tom Hanks paid tribute to WSU’s class of 2020. He called the graduates “the chosen ones” as they make their way through the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic.