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COVID-19 / Education / Entertainment / Events / Universities

Here’s how 6 Philly-area colleges are celebrating graduation amid the pandemic

Several schools are livestreaming their ceremonies and looking into hosting in-person commencements later in the year.

Graduation. (Pexels/Pixabay)

The Philadelphia region has no shortage of colleges and universities, and thousands of students graduate into the city’s various workforces every year.

But in March, as many schools turned to virtual instruction to finish out the semester, many graduating seniors were left wondering about what springtime commencement would look like.

“I’ve seen many students, especially seniors, express their sadness about spending the rest of their time in college in online classes,” editorial intern Marybeth Gerdelmann wrote last month. “The change came quick. Not all students can thrive in an online learning environment.”

Now, college seniors are taking finals online and wrapping up Zoom meetings for the semester while job hunting for the first time during a pandemic.

Most of these students will officially “graduate” in the coming weeks, but have no clue if or when they’ll get to don a cap and gown and walk across a stage to accept their diploma. Here’s how some area schools have decided to handle the big day (and check out Forbes’ extensive roundup of graduation plans around the country):

Temple University

Temple’s in-person graduation is considered “postponed,” although seniors will official earn their degree on May 7. On that date, the university announced last week, seniors will be able to celebrate and “share messages of support” with a virtual ceremony at 11 a.m.

The in-person graduation will occur when it’s safe to do so, the university said.

Drexel University

In a message to students, Drexel President John Fry told the university community that the pandemic “has forced us to postpone all Drexel commencement ceremonies this spring.”

“Some of our colleges may conduct virtual and other unique ceremonies or recognitions, as well. Details about these events will be shared directly to students by their respective schools and colleges,” he wrote.

Drexel operates on a quarter system, and summer instruction has been deemed to be online, the school said.

Villanova University

University President Rev. Peter Donohue announced that in lieu of gathering on May 15, the university will have a live-streamed ceremony on YouTube.

“When it is safe to gather, Villanova will honor its graduates in person, on campus and is currently exploring possible dates,” the school said.

University of Pennsylvania 

Students at Penn were informed by President Amy Gutmann back in March that in-person commencement would be canceled and instead a ceremony would be taking place virtually on May 18 at 11 a.m.

“While it will not be the same as our traditional ceremony, we are committed to finding the best way possible to recognize the achievements of the Class of 2020, and we will strive to make the virtual event as meaningful and celebratory as the circumstances permit,” she wrote. “We are also exploring the possibility of an on-campus celebration for this year’s graduates that could be held in the fall.”

Community College of Philadelphia

As of late April, CCP announced it would be postponing its spring commencement.

La Salle University

In-person commencement planned for May 9 will no longer be held, but a virtual celebration will take place on that date at 11 a.m., the university said in a statement.

“We WILL gather in-person to honor your class when it is once again safe to do so. In the meantime, please join me, your classmates, your professors and our staff for this virtual celebration to share in the excitement that we all hold for you,” wrote Colleen Hanycz, university president.

Companies: Community College of Philadelphia / Drexel University / La Salle University / Temple University / University of Pennsylvania / Villanova University
Series: Coronavirus

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