Due to safety and health concerns surrounding the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Southeastern Oklahoma State University will celebrate its December 12 Fall Commencement in a virtual format.
“The health and well-being of our students, their families, faculty and staff continues to be our top priority,’’ said Southeastern president Thomas Newsom. “Unfortunately, holding large, in-person gatherings such as commencement are not advisable, according to health officials. While we are disappointed that we will not be able to celebrate this accomplishment in person, we believe this decision is in the best interests of the University.’’
Newsom added that it was one of the toughest decisions he’s ever had to make.
“As a parent, I know how important it is to recognize young people for their achievements,’’ he said. “Commencement is one of those significant milestones that we should all be able to celebrate together, and it really bothers me that we are not able to honor our students in the traditional manner. But on behalf of the entire University, I want to congratulate all the graduates and their families. By no means is their work and dedication leading to a college degree lessened by the circumstances of not having a formal ceremony.’’
SOSU 2020 COMMENCEMENT REIMAGINED will go live on the Southeastern website homepage www.se.edu on Saturday, December 12 at 10 a.m.
The event will include pre-recorded comments from President Newsom; Vice President for Academic Affairs Teresa Golden, who will read the names of the honor graduates; Vice President for Student Affairs Liz McCraw, who will read the names of all other graduates; and Alumni Association President Andrea Rogers Mersiovsky. These remarks will be filmed in a stage setting.
In addition, in mid-November, graduates will have the opportunity to have their official graduation photo taken on the stage.
Also, the University will be recognizing the graduates in a unique way online. Each graduate will have their very own webpage where family, friends, and the University community can post written and video messages of congratulations. Photos and other information may also be uploaded to the webpages, and graduates will be able to share the site and photos through various social media platforms.
Southeastern returned to a blend of in-person and remote instruction this fall and announced previously that instruction would be moved to all remote/online delivery for five days (Nov. 30-Dec. 4 ) after Thanksgiving. This will be followed by a finals week to be conducted virtually, with either online exams or alternative projects/presentations.
“Like many other schools, we made this decision as a preventive measure,’’ Newsom said. “The anticipated surge of COVID in November, combined with the arrival of the flu, which can display similar symptoms, has the potential to create challenges to the health of the communities on college campuses. This risk is enhanced by the likelihood of student and faculty travel during the Thanksgiving holidays (Nov. 23-27), which could increase the chances for COVID 19 exposure.’’