Mercer University will hold traditional commencement celebrations for spring 2020 graduates in August, President William D. Underwood announced Tuesday.
The COVID-19 pandemic necessitated moving the ceremonies from May, when they originally were scheduled to be held.
The School of Medicine was unable to reschedule commencement and will conduct its ceremony virtually on the originally scheduled date of May 2 because so many of its graduates are required to leave soon thereafter for residency programs around the country.
“I had very much hoped that we would be able to hold our traditional commencement celebrations as scheduled,” Underwood told students in an email. “While we are making progress as a state working through this pandemic, it does not appear likely that we will have made sufficient progress by early May for these large gatherings of graduates, family, friends, and teachers to be either wise or perhaps even legally permissible.”
However, it is important that the Mercer community gather as one to celebrate this milestone, Underwood wrote, and the University will hold commencement ceremonies at a time that allows graduates and their family, friends and teachers to participate.
Therefore, commencement exercises will take place over three days in August, starting with the School of Law, which will celebrate at 1 p.m. Aug. 7 in Hawkins Arena on the Macon campus.
The traditional baccalaureate service will be held at 6 p.m. Aug. 7 in Willingham Auditorium in Macon. Commencement for all other programs in Macon will be held Aug. 8 in Hawkins Arena. The specific time will be announced in the coming weeks.
The commencement celebration for Atlanta graduates will be held at 3 p.m. Aug. 9 in the Infinite Energy Center in Gwinnett County.
Underwood acknowledged that no rescheduled date will work for everyone, calling it one of his “greatest disappointments in these difficult circumstances.”
Rescheduling of the ceremonies will not delay students’ actual graduation, meaning they will still earn their degrees at the end of the terms in which all requirements are met.
“Despite this disappointing news, I want to congratulate you now on your impending graduation,” Underwood told seniors in his email. “It will be an important milestone in your lives.
“I very much look forward to congratulating you in a more formal and personal way in August.”