Monday, April 20, 2020

Dear Members of the Wilkes Community, 

Several weeks ago, we made the necessary decision to postpone our May commencement, another disappointing moment that the pandemic has caused. Commencement represents not only the culmination of our students’ academic progress, but also the fulfillment of the University’s mission. Each student who crosses the stage to receive his or her diploma strengthens Wilkes as a whole and becomes a part of our collective history. Though there is no true replacement for the time you have lost on campus, I am writing to you today to share our latest plans for celebrating with you and your loved ones. 

In lieu of our 73rd annual spring commencement on May 16, Wilkes University will celebrate your graduation on Saturday, Sept, 12, 2020. This new timeframe allows us to combine our spring and summer commencements during one momentous occasion when we can all be together again. 

All spring and summer graduate students earning master’s and doctoral degrees will receive their diplomas at a 10 a.m. ceremony. Spring and summer undergraduate students earning bachelor’s degrees will be awarded diplomas at a 3 p.m. ceremony. As long as the weather is in our favor, both ceremonies will be preceded by the traditional procession of graduating students, led by bagpipers, from the Marts Center through the Campus Gateway to the McHale Athletic Center at UCOM. 

We appreciate your patience as we have waited for guidance from federal, state and local authorities. With cases continuing to develop locally and throughout the region, a decision to host commencement in June, July or early August seems premature. Choosing a date in September allows us to take advantage of the late-summer weather and enjoy some of the outdoor traditions that have become such an important part of our celebration. 

Please know that we are planning a host of events that weekend. Though details are still being developed, you can look forward to a variety of events beginning on Friday, Sept. 11 and extending to Sunday, Sept. 13. More information on these plans will be shared with you in the coming weeks. 

Of course, this plan will remain dependent on the guidance of national and local health officials. It is clear that the coronavirus will continue to be part of our lives. For a myriad of reasons, we hope the regional, national and global health situation is in a better place by September. 

Caps and gowns for May graduates have been mailed to your home address. If you are a May graduate and you haven’t ordered your cap and gown, you may do so on the website until May 15. Though the spring ceremony is delayed, the date in which degrees are conferred, May 16, goes unchanged, as long as your academic requirements are met. Please know that we are committed to celebrating you from afar on and leading up to May 16. Please monitor your Wilkes email and our social media accounts for more information about the ways in which we will recognize the Class of 2020.

We know some of you are eager to receive your diploma before the fall. For the convenience of all of our spring graduates, diplomas will be mailed in June. You will still walk across the stage and receive a representation of your degree in September. Summer graduates will receive their diplomas at the September ceremony, or by mail afterwards if they have chosen to be in absentia.

I hope this news creates some happiness to your day. It certainly brings happiness and optimism to mine. We can’t wait to be with you all again very soon.