Matthew Soderberg | News Editor
Baylor University announced Monday the cancellation of its May and August dual-commencement ceremonies set to take place on Aug. 14-15. The ceremony will be replaced with an online version held on Aug. 15.
The new commencement will be aired on Facebook Live at 10 a.m.. Following speeches and musical performances, August graduates’ names will be displayed on the McLane Stadium video board.
The move to an online format comes on the heels of a spike in COVID-19 cases across the country. According to the CDC, Texas has seen the second most new cases of any state in the past week, recording over 63,000 compared to Florida’s 69,000. President Linda Livingstone said the change is a precaution meant to help maintain the university’s plan to open the fall with in-person courses.
“Together, we have to take steps now to slow the spread of COVID-19 so that we effectively begin the fall semester on Aug. 24,” Livingstone said.
Livingstone also acknowledged the thousands of students who had planned to walk the stage after May commencement was cancelled.
“Many of our May 2020 graduates also planned to participate in the August ceremony,” Livingstone said. “I know I speak for the entire Baylor Family when I say we are heartbroken that all of these students who have worked incredibly hard through unprecedented obstacles will not be celebrated through the in-person ceremony we hoped for.”
One of those alumni, Sommer Stanley, said she was saddened because her family built their summer around the prospect of an in-person commencement.
“We had to miss out on so much our last few months of school, so I was really looking forward to at least being able to walk the stage,” Stanley said. “That’s a once in a lifetime experience I’ll never get back.”
She also said since Baylor had already cancelled the December ceremony, she believed this one was “in the clear.” Despite her “amazing college career,” she still says she’s searching for closure after such an abrupt ending.
“It was hard because I didn’t get to say proper goodbyes to everyone, appreciate my last days on campus or say goodbye to my professors,” Stanley said. “When I left for spring break, I was definitely not prepared to start saying goodbyes and get ready for the real world.”
Baylor’s revised fall schedule already featured a virtual commencement ceremony for December graduates, meaning the university will take a 17 month break from celebrating its graduates in person. The next scheduled ceremony is May 2021.