On April 2, members of the University of Dallas of 2020 received an email from President Thomas Hibbs titled “Postponing Commencement.”
In the email, Hibbs described extensive discussion among UD administration concerning the celebration of the graduating senior class originally scheduled for May 17.
Due to health and safety concerns during the global pandemic of COVID-19, the Spring 2020 Commencement has been postponed.
All of the seniors who fulfill the academic requirements for graduation will receive a May degree conferral. An undergraduate senior pursuing, for instance, a Bachelor of the Arts degree in biology will be recognized for successfully studying biology at the University of Dallas if his or her classes satisfy all of the required credits.
The postponed Commencement Ceremony for the Class of 2020 will occur later in the year. Hibbs admitted the importance of celebrating the graduating class and offered two possible dates, one in October and one in December, for the ceremony to take place.
Alumni and Family Weekend is one possible date for the Commencement Ceremony in October. Hundreds of UD families travel to campus for the weekend and participate in a variety of activities. The Commencement Ceremony may happen simultaneously, easing the burden of travel on UD families coming from far away to celebrate their graduating students.
The other possible date in December may coincide with the annual Winter Commencement for the Gupta College of Business.
Hibbs and the UD administration are still in discussion over the official date of the Spring 2020 Commencement. On the University of Dallas website, members of the Class of 2020 are invited to participate in a survey for their preference between the two possible dates for their Commencement Ceremony.
This latest change to the spring semester follows several alterations made in March.
Earlier in March, Hibbs emailed the UD community about his decision to extend spring break until March 30 and to switch to online courses for the remainder of the semester. Students were ordered off-campus by March 17, with arrangements made with the Office of Student of Affairs.
Initially, time slots were offered to students to retrieve any belongings left in their former residences on campus later this semester. However, housing assignments on the UD campus have been put on hold as Governor Abbot ordered a statewide shelter in place order for the month of April, according to an April 3 email from Director of Student Affairs Seth Oldham.
Regarding the change to the Spring Commencement Ceremony, several seniors have expressed their appreciation and doubts about the decision.
Senior business major Caren Buskmiller said either date for Commencement works for her family residing in Dallas. She plans on still wearing her cap and gown on the original Commencement date in May for a small ceremony with her family.
The Class of 2020 was expecting to hear about changes to their graduation during the global pandemic of COVID-19, but that does not lessen their sadness.
“I know it is disappointing for everyone, especially the seniors,” Buskmiller said. Despite having to adjust to the schedule change, Buskmiller said she is “glad that the university is taking COVID seriously.” She agrees with the health concerns the UD administration expressed about the original May ceremony, due to the uncertainty of the spread of COVID-19.
“I’m not sure how many people will show up to the postponed date, but I think that it’s good that everyone has an option to celebrate officially,” Buskmiller said.
Student Government President and junior politics major Joe Scholz also supported the decision the UD administration made.
“I want to sincerely thank our administration for the timely and open communication on this matter, and I wish to state that I fully agree with their choice to look at times this fall, as no one yet knows what this summer will hold, ” Scholz said.