Campus News

Spread of COVID-19 prompts UW-Madison to postpone spring commencement

As the number of cases of the COVID-19 virus increases both in Wisconsin and across the United States, UW-Madison decided to postpone its spring commencement ceremony.

As the number of cases of the COVID-19 virus increases both in Wisconsin and across the United States, UW-Madison decided to postpone its spring commencement ceremony.

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After holding out as long as possible, UW-Madison announced Monday that it would postpone its spring commencement ceremonies due to rising concerns related to the COVID-19 virus. 

Chancellor Rebecca Blank sent an email and spoke in a recorded video message to inform UW community members of the university’s decision. In addition to commencement events held at Camp Randall and the Kohl Center, Blank also noted that individual graduation ceremonies hosted by UW schools, colleges, departments and campus organizations would not occur.

“Commencement is the best event of the year at UW, and I am deeply sorry about this decision,” Blank said in the video. “For the class of 2020, this is a painful loss. You should have a chance to celebrate with your teachers, friends and family, and that will not happen this May.” 

In collaboration with the senior class officers, however, Blank said a virtual commencement ceremony would take place May 8. 

A tribute video dedicated to the class of 2020 will headline the processions. Student’s degrees will be conferred in the video and Blank hoped that keynote speaker James Patterson and alumni speaker John Felder would provide remarks, according to her email. 

Once it becomes safe for large numbers of people to congregate together, Blank said the university and senior class officers would create an in-person event at a later date to honor those who graduated. 

“The coronavirus pandemic has changed many things. But it doesn’t change the exceptional achievements of the Class of 2020,” Blank wrote. “You are Rhodes Scholar finalists, national champion athletes, inventors, entrepreneurs and dedicated students with the skills and passion to lead our nation and our world to a better place.”

Blank promised that all outgoing students will graduate on time and receive their diploma, as long as they meet their degree requirements. 

In another email sent by the university, students should still apply to graduate and complete their applications by April 3 to be included in the commencement ceremony program. 

The Senior Class Office will continue with its fundraising efforts with the Green Bandana Project — organized by the National Alliance on Mental Illness-UW — as the Class of 2020’s Senior Class Gift, the email said. 

Additionally, students may receive their cap and gowns for commemorative pictures, but they will be unable to take pictures at Camp Randall or the Abraham Lincoln statue on top of Bascom Hill. 

The email also said graduating students could participate in future ceremonies, such as the Winter 2020 or Spring 2021 commencements. 

In the face of unprecedented circumstances, Blank praised the UW community for confronting “fear and uncertainty with grace, resilience and compassion,” and for supporting one another. 

“That’s what being a Badger is all about,” Blank said. “Together we will get through this — and yes — we will celebrate. The Class of 2020 deserves nothing less.” 

More information and updates regarding commencement can be found on its website.

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