Carson-Newman University cancels in-person graduation plans for virtual ceremony due to pandemic

Local News

JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. (WATE) — Carson-Newman University is moving to a virtual commencement on Aug. 7 for its May graduates.

This is a change from earlier plans for a delayed in-person ceremony. University administrators hoped to see improved circumstances related to the COVID-19 pandemic, but with case counts rising, the institution will move to a virtual-only format at 7:30 p.m. on Aug. 7, according to a news release.

“We’ve made this decision with heavy hearts. There is an associated, potential higher risk with so many people traveling from within and without the immediate area into our small community,” University President Charles A. Fowler said. “We altered the schedule for our fall semester to avoid such back-and-forth travel, eliminating the fall break and shifting to an online format after Thanksgiving. With summer case counts rising, it is prudent that we make this change to our commencement ceremony as well.”

Randy Boyd, president of the University of Tennessee, will deliver the commencement address. Boyd was the architect for Tennessee Promise and Drive to 55 as well as founder and chairman of Tennessee Achieves — all initiatives aimed at increasing the number of Tennesseans with post-secondary degrees and decreasing financial hardship.

He is additionally the founder of Radio Systems Corp., a Knoxville-based business; chairman of Boyd Sports; owner of Tennessee Smokies, Johnson City Cardinals, Greeneville Red and Elizabethton Twins; former chairman of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission; former commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development; and a founder and past co-chair of the Governor’s Rural Taskforce.

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A recording of the ceremony will be available after the event for those unable to watch during the scheduled time.

The University is offering graduates the opportunity to return to campus at staggered times, stand for pictures with Fowler while in their academic regalia and celebrate with the professors of their department. Graduating students will receive more information about these plans, which will include masks and physical distancing.


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