DE PERE, Wis. (WFRV) – St. Norbert College has announced commencement for the class of 2020 will be virtual.
St. Norbert had originally postponed commencement until the end of August in the hopes that an in-person event would be possible while area schools like Lawrence University and UW-Oshkosh held virtual commencements.
Graduating students were given the opportunity to complete a survey regarding their preference on how commencement would be held. According to a letter shared with WFRV Local 5 that was sent to graduating students by President Brian Bruess, “the continued uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic” as well as related restrictions, it was “determined that the best course is to move forward with virtual Commencement exercises on Saturday, Aug. 29.”
“I know this will come as a disappointment to you; I share that disappointment,” Pres. Bruess stated.
He goes on to say that during the decision-making process, the commencement committee ruled out the Jim Kress Gymnasium on campus due to the inability to allow for social distancing. The committee also considered the Resch Center, but the venue had a concert scheduled on the intended night of commencement.
“I personally reached out to leadership in the Packers organization to use Lambeau Field; sadly but understandably, that was not something they could say yes to,” Pres. Bruess continues.
The committee also considered using Schneider Stadium and worked to complete a plan that assumed graduates could sit near family members, but were faced with allowing only very few guests per student. The possibility of unfavorable weather also impacted the decision.
“Finally, we grappled with the continuing ‘big unknown’ – the ever-changing landscape of COVID-19. We cannot be certain what Aug. 29 might hold, and many of you, and your families, are solidifying your plans for the rest of the summer. Building your calendar around a Commencement event that health authorities might ultimately not permit would be frustrating indeed,” Pres. Bruess states.
Due to these challenges, he says they “were left with no viable options for an in-person celebration of any kind.” The surveys completed by graduating students found that the top preference for an alternative was a virtual ceremony on August 29.
“I want to assure you that in all our exploration of Commencement options, there was one option we did not consider: failing to honor you and celebrate your achievements. You’ve earned your day. We will celebrate it in the best way we are able,” Pres. Bruess concluded.
St. Norbert College has already announced plans to resume in-person classes for the fall semester.
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