Lindenwood cancels graduation because of coronavirus

Matt Hampton, Editor-in-Chief

Updated April 1, 2020 at 12:49 p.m. with information about a survey for students wanting to participate in December commencement ceremony.  

In an email sent out on Tuesday, students were asked to complete a survey for those interested in participating in the December graduation ceremony.

“We understand how disappointing the decision was to cancel the May 2020 commencement ceremonies; however, we hope you will join your classmates and us in December at the Family Arena in St. Charles,” the email read.

Students wanting to order regalia need to complete the survey, even if they do not wish to participate in the commencement ceremony. The link to the survey will be closed on April 17 at 5 p.m.

Because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Lindenwood will not hold spring graduation ceremonies, according to an email the provost sent out on March 23.

“Currently, state and local ordinances prohibit gatherings of any size, and with no assurance that this prohibition will be lifted by May or early summer, students, parents, and the university are unable to plan and prepare for commencement ceremonies in the near future,” Provost Marilyn Abbott said in the email.  “When we announced on March 16 that classes would move online, we had hoped that the situation would improve enough that May ceremonies could still take place. Unfortunately, it has become clear in the past few days that we will not see improvement quickly enough for students and their families to make travel plans or be certain of their safety at a large gathering.”

According to the email, the cancellation of the ceremony will not affect students’ degrees.

The university is coming up with plans to honor graduates virtually.  Molly Hudgins, associate provost for curriculum and experiential learning, said administrators are reviewing options and have taken ideas from different parts of the university.  She said students can send suggestions to [email protected].

Students from St. Charles and Belleville campuses will be able to attend the fall commencement ceremony the weekend of Dec. 11-13.

St. Charles County banned gatherings of more than 10 people on March 19 in response to the spread of COVID-19, a respiratory disease caused by a virus which started in Wuhan, China.

Hudgins has said seniors’ graduation fees will not be refunded.

“The graduation fee is not assessed to students based on the commencement ceremony,” she said in an email earlier this month.  “The graduation fee covers the administration of processes related to graduation such as the processing of transcripts, diplomas and other items related to graduating from the university.”

Students who have ordered regalia to ship to the campus bookstore can now have it ship to their home for free, according to the Lindenwood COVID-19 website.  However, students who purchased announcements for the spring ceremony will have to buy new announcements. The Lindenwood COVID-19 website also contains other details about attending ceremonies and receiving honors cords and regalia.

“Not being able to celebrate the accomplishments of our graduates at the traditional commencement ceremonies this spring is a difficult blow,” the email from Abbott said. “In many ways those accomplishments are even more deserving of celebration because students are completing their degrees under incredibly challenging circumstances. However, the need to care for our community by avoiding large gatherings during the pandemic makes this a necessary step.”

As of March 23, there have been 24 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in St. Charles County and one death, according to the county Department of Public Health.  At least one Lindenwood student has tested positive for the coronavirus, and a 31-year-old Lindenwood alumna died from COVID-19.

This is a breaking news story and will be updated with more information.