COVID-19 concerns prompt joint commencement ceremony in 2021


Submitted by: Alayna Ross

Students and faculty hope to have a normal commencement ceremony in May 2021.

Alayna Ross

Ashland University has decided to honor the Spring and Winter of 2020 classes with the Spring Class of 2021 in joint commencement exercises on the weekend of May 8, 2021.

The decision comes in light of the COVID-19 global pandemic and concerns with the spread of the virus on campus. 

According to Provost Dr. Amiel Jarstfer, the preparation and judgments about commencement events typically include a large team of fifteen individuals, which represent all areas on campus. The goal of the committee is to discuss the various logistical aspects of a large scale event, such as commencement, on-campus.

Many factors weighed into the decision to move the Spring and Winter of 2020 classes with the Spring Class of 2021 in joint commencement exercises.

“First, the desire to provide the commencement experience to all who have earned the degrees and should be honored and celebrated in this very public manner even though public health orders and protocols have disrupted the normal commencement plans”, Dr. Jarstfer said. “Secondly, sensing it is better to have some event available to all graduates rather than deny this for a specific group of graduates because of the Covid-19 orders from the state about large gatherings of people.”

Due to the uncertainty of developments and the spread of the COVID-19 virus in the Ashland community and the United States as a whole, the scheduled commencement on May 8, 2021, is tentative.

“If health concerns are still in place as we get closer to May we will reevaluate the ceremony”, said Mark Britton, AU Registrar.  “It is likely that we would strongly consider a virtual ceremony of some sort rather than push the ceremony farther into the future.”

According to Tamara Mosser from the AU Public Relations, the health and safety is the top priority for all decisions regarding commencement. 

“Parents, students and families should know we will continue to comply with the governor’s orders regarding large gatherings”, Tamara Mosser said. “Everything we have done to this point has been after consultation with local and state public health officials, the governor’s office and the CDC and our priority, first and always, is the safety and health of our campus community, friends and families.”