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Spaulding addresses 2020 commencement

On June 5, 2020, MVNU President Dr. Henry W. Spaulding II released the following statement on the 2020 commencement:

Dear 2020 Graduates,

In response to my June 3rd email regarding Commencement, many of you have reached out to express your disappointment. It became very clear you do not want a virtual version of Commencement. I heard you, our Senior Leadership Team heard you, and our faculty and staff heard you.

I sympathize with you in this and understand that the current health crisis has caused difficulties and frustration for our community at nearly every turn. I may never find the words to effectively communicate how much I grieve with you, yet I want to take this opportunity to append my recent communication. My desire is to provide additional details regarding this difficult news in an informative and compassionate manner.

Due to the governor of Ohio’s direct order regarding mass gatherings, it quickly became clear that our August 15th Commencement plan and Move-In Day both needed to change in date, scope, and logistics. At the same time, our Academic Leadership Team was determining the best options for bringing students back to campus for Fall semester under the current COVID-19 guidelines and safety precautions. When those two conversations merged, three facts emerged:

  1. A traditional Commencement ceremony in the Chapel or outside on our campus was not possible in light of the governor’s current orders and advice from health officials under any circumstances, regardless of the date, even into the Fall.

  2. The Fall semester academic calendar needed to be adjusted to start early and end before Thanksgiving to minimize the risk of a COVID-19 outbreak on campus.

  3. Move-In Day would need to be restructured to spread out student arrivals throughout the day and minimize large group interactions.

Based on these three facts, we determined the new academic schedule, including the new Move-In Day. Knowing our Commencement plans were not possible in light of the governor’s current orders, we adopted the new Fall schedule and explored new acceptable options for Commencement. Decisions were made to move forward with rescheduling Fall semester. This was no easy task. Our team created a calendar that provides for a full academic semester that will end by Thanksgiving. Yes, Move-In Day coincidently landed on the day we had hoped to have Commencement, but it is not the reason we changed the date. It is not true that we canceled Commencement.

In response to your feedback and our desire to celebrate with you, today, June 5, 2020, we submitted a new plan for Commencement to state and local health officials for review. We received approval to have a “drive up” Commencement on Saturday, July 25 (Traditional), and Sunday, July 26 (GPS).  You will receive detailed logistics for this ceremony no later than July 1. Traditional students will graduate by schools and GPS students will be organized by undergraduate and graduate status. We will send full details regarding how this works by July 1.

Our University Registrar would like to communicate a few specific details:

Graduation Fee Refund

Many of you have inquired about your graduation fee. The following update should be helpful toward that end. We are refunding the $100 graduation fee to all students, Traditional and GPS. We will begin this process next week, and it will be refunded in one of two ways: 1) If no balance is on your account, then you will receive either a direct deposit or paper check in the mail, 2) If you owe a balance on your account, the balance will be reduced by $100. The Student Financial Services Office will process this refund. The graduation fee will no longer be assessed at MVNU.

Graduate Regalia

We have the Traditional Commencement regalia for students who were participating in the original ceremony here in the Registrar’s Office (located in the Academic Services Building next to the bookstore). If desired, we will be open for in-person regalia pickup Wednesday, June 10, Thursday, June 11, and Friday, June 12 from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. You will need to send an email to registrar@mvnu.edu to let us know what time and day you plan to stop by to pick it up. Only one person will be permitted to enter the office at a time, so someone will be there to call in the next person. You may pick up regalia for another student, but we must receive an email from that student to registrar@mvnu.edu informing us so that permission is confirmed.

NOTE: Avoid the bridge replacement project on Mount Vernon Avenue because Cougar Drive is closed at that intersection. We recommend entering the front of campus off Martinsburg Road.

All regalia that is not picked up in person will be mailed in a large bubble envelope beginning Monday, June 15. Included will be the gown with University seal zipper pendant, cap, tassel with drop ‘MVNU’ tag, diploma cover, and honor cords (if earned).

GPS students have already received their regalia through the home shipment process. No additional orders may be placed.

It has broken my heart to see your grief, frustration, and anger over the last several days. Your semester ended abruptly and the mode of instruction was difficult for most of you.  On top of all of this, you learned that it was not possible for you to graduate as previous classes have.  I did not want this, and I know you did not want this.  I have earnestly sought to find an alternative. The approved process will not be the same as we all wanted, but it is the only possible option.  I encourage you to put as positive a spin on this as possible.

I want to thank for enduring to this point and reaching out to me to express your brokenness in the midst of this day.  COVID-19 has taken so much from all of us. I pray that you will not allow the horrible virus to rob you of the joy and accomplishment you have so richly earned.  I ask that you will Shine Forth in the midst of the darkness before you.

Please be encouraged as we approach our July Commencement. You have left an indelible mark on MVNU.  Your Commencement signifies a new chapter in your life, but remember that you will always be one of us.  We look forward to welcoming you back for Homecomings, sports events, and cultural events in the future. Your life has changed over the years you spent with us. Now, be the change that will redeem the world. 

Sincerely,

Dr. Henry W. Spaulding II