Dear Graduates of the Class of 2020,
On June 1, President Phipps announced the reopening plan for Messiah’s fall 2020 semester. To provide a safe on-campus, in-person experience for our undergraduate students, it is necessary for Messiah to start the semester one week early, eliminate fall break and compress the course schedule to end the week before Thanksgiving. (You may read the president’s announcement here.) This allows Messiah to minimize the potential campus exposure to COVID-19 that would likely result from students traveling and returning over breaks, particularly breaks in the mid-to-late fall.
Regrettably, Messiah does not have the ability to host in-person Commencement when classes are in session. With the cancelation of fall break, and our full undergraduate student population on campus, Messiah must acknowledge there are clear health mitigation issues with bringing large number of external guests to campus for Commencement. There are also significant logistical issues with lack of parking and venue spaces when we are in session.
We are deeply disappointed that our original plan to hold Commencement for our graduate and undergraduate students on Oct. 23 and 24 will no longer be possible. But Messiah remains committed to hosting an in-person celebration for the members of the Class of 2020. The adjusted fall schedule would allow Messiah to host an in-person commencement in early December. However, it remains uncertain if large gatherings of that size will be permitted by the state governor’s directive prior to the end of the year. This has caused us to explore variations of how we could still host a December 2020 celebration in a safe and compliant way for all.
As we mentioned in our previous communication, we had already planned for an online survey to to seek graduates’ input regarding their intent and preferences for a rescheduled ceremony. This survey is even more important given this most recent change in circumstances.
Watch your Messiah email and please complete our brief survey so that we may have your voice in the mix. Graduates will be asked to register their attendance for Commencement sometime in late August/early September. Details will continue to made available on this website as decisions are finalized.
In the days and weeks ahead, we’d like to continue to share photos of you in your caps and gowns; email photos to email@example.com or use the hashtag #MessiahGrad20 on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter.
We will be reaching out to you soon.
The Undergraduate Commencement Committee