Gannon announced Tuesday that commencement, originally scheduled for May 9, will now take place Oct. 4 in conjunction with Homecoming Weekend.
The postponement of the highly anticipated ceremony is the latest in a string of university-wide cancellations related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Doug Oathout, Gannon’s chief marketing officer, acknowledged that while the news may come as a disappointment, the university is working hard to recognize its 2020 graduates while still aligning with global health recommendations.
“We hope that by making this decision now, we are able to provide our graduates with as much time as possible to make plans with their families and friends,” Oathout wrote in an email to the campus community.
Kate DuCarme, a senior physician assistant major, is grateful that graduates will still be recognized in a formal ceremony.
As a transition guide and resident assistant, DuCarme has devoted hundreds of hours to creating meaningful experiences for others. She is satisfied with the university’s commitment to honor her and her classmates during this time of uncertainty.
“Gannon’s focus on the student experience has been obvious during this period of transition,” DuCarme said. “I’m looking forward to attending my graduation ceremony in October and am excited to take part in Homecoming festivities as well.”
Brady Bizon, a sophomore physician assistant major, echoed DuCarme’s sentiment. Bizon has a multitude of graduating friends from his involvement in residence life, Greek life and Schuster Theatre.
“I think Gannon did the right thing by planning graduation for Homecoming Weekend,” Bizon said. “Seniors will have the opportunity to come back to a lively campus at the peak of the semester, instead of coming back to a dead campus later in the summer.”
Molly Ramich, a senior social work major, pointed out the new date will pose logistical challenges for some graduates.
“I’m afraid a lot less people from my year will be able to participate,” Ramich said.
Seniors who live far from Erie or whose post-graduate plans involve travel may have difficulty coming back to campus in October.
Khalid Alenezi, a senior respiratory care major, said he will have returned to his home country of Saudi Arabia by then.
“I feel so sad to not be able to say goodbye to my Gannon family in May, but I understand the decision had to be made,” Alenezi said. “I’m going to do my best to come back in October to celebrate myself and my friends.”
Willow Herron, a senior industrial engineering major, is planning to be in West Africa with the Peace Corps in October.
Though Herron is disappointed to miss a milestone with her friends, she is looking forward to putting her critical thinking and project management skills to use with the Peace Corps.
“I’d better still get there,” she said.
Degrees will still be conferred in May for students who have completed all academic requirements.
Graduates of the Erie campus have the opportunity to be formally recognized in October, as well as the choice to join the regularly scheduled commencement in December if that date better suits their needs. Graduates of the Ruskin campus will have the option to be honored during a ceremony Aug. 29.
Virtual events to celebrate the class of 2020 will be held in the interim, including a virtual senior social on April 23, virtual happy hours and special giveaways.
Graduating seniors are asked to complete a brief survey indicating their commencement plans by April 10. The survey will assist the university in planning the October ceremony and can be accessed at http://survey.gannon.edu/TakeSurvey.aspx?SurveyID=n6KI8n9M.
Questions and comments regarding commencement can be submitted online at https://www.gannon.edu/Questions-or-Comments/.