Members of Lehigh's class of 2018 prepare for commencement. This year's ceremony for the class of 2020 was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic, and a virtual ceremony will occur at the end of the academic year. (Roshan Giyanani/B&W Staff)

Commencement postponed, virtual ceremony to be held in May

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President John Simon notified the Lehigh community on March 31 that the spring 2020 commencement ceremony, originally scheduled for May 18, will be postponed to a later date.

A virtual ceremony will be held at the end of the academic year, the email said. Diplomas will be mailed at the end of the year as originally planned. 

 “To be clear, commencement is not canceled, and we look forward to holding this celebratory event for the Class of 2020 in Goodman Stadium later this year,” Simon said. 

Simon said guidance from health professionals, as well as the CDC, indicated that holding commencement amid the coronavirus outbreak would put the community at a great health risk.  

Simon said that in order to be courteous to families who needed to make travel and hotel arrangements, it was necessary to announce this decision now instead of holding out until a later date. No new potential date for a physical commencement ceremony was proposed in the email. 

“For all of us, commencement serves as an important touchstone — a ceremony signifying the culmination and fulfillment of studies requiring years of hard work and determination and an opportunity for our community to come together in celebration, reflection, and thanks,” Simon said. 

Simon is working with a group of students, formed by the Student Senate, to plan the virtual and future physical ceremonies.  

 Please check the Lehigh University Commencement website for new updates and information.

 “We look forward to the day when we can physically come together again to celebrate. And we will celebrate! Our time together — I’m sure of it — will be all the more meaningful in light of these extraordinary circumstances,” the email said. 

Elsewhere in the Lehigh Valley, Muhlenberg College and Cedar Crest College also announced their respective commencement ceremonies will be postponed, with no new dates announced. Moravian College announced their commencement ceremony is still on for the time being, but if they decide they can’t hold the ceremony on May 9 as planned, the ceremony will occur on Oct. 24.

As of March 31, Lafayette College has postponed its commencement ceremony to Aug. 1. DeSales University have not yet announced any changes to its commencement ceremony.

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