I am sad to share with you the news that The University of Tulsa’s 145th Commencement on May 9 will be postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
While this is clearly the right thing to do to protect public health, my heart goes out to those of you who have been looking forward to walking across the stage in a crowded Reynolds Center to the cheers of proud family and friends.
I know this news is disappointing, that it comes on top of many other sacrifices that you have been called on to make during this pandemic and that it only adds to the uncertainty of these uncharted times. On behalf of the faculty and staff, I want you to know how very sorry we are that this is necessary.
We polled students to ask how best to honor and celebrate this year’s graduates given our current challenges. You told us that you are not interested in a virtual commencement. You also told us that you don’t want commencement canceled; you want it postponed. The majority of respondents were in favor of rescheduling it for October, perhaps tied to TU Homecoming. There was also support for a summer ceremony, if the COVID-19 threat lifts by then. We will explore alternatives and will keep you informed.
Meanwhile, the faculty, administration, Alumni Association and Student Association will find another way to recognize those of you completing your degrees in May. We may not be able to replicate the pomp and circumstance of a traditional TU commencement, but we will not let this milestone go unnoted.
Commencement marks one of the most important turning points in your lives. It celebrates your past achievements and your future promise. Regardless of timing, you – our 2020 graduates – should be tremendously proud of your achievement and how hard you have worked to be where you are today. You will have earned your degree despite the challenges of an unprecedented situation, and you have our highest respect.
In the meantime, we want to stay in touch. I invite each of you to join me and several familiar faces from our various student services offices for a virtual Student Town Hall this week. To join the one-hour conversation, visit http://utulsa.edu/student-townhall at noon Friday. So that we may address as many topics as possible, please submit questions in advance to firstname.lastname@example.org.
I am deeply grateful to our students who are making the best of this situation. Some have helped their peers overcome technological or psychological hurdles. Some are coping with this disease within their own families. Some have reached out to their professors to express encouragement. Some are finding innovative ways to support their communities. I am proud of you for rising to the occasion, fulfilling TU’s mission and embodying citizenship and service in a changing world.
Stay healthy and connected,
Janet K. Levit