FAMU may hold commencement at Bragg

FAMU says it will announce graduation plans in early March. Photo courtesy famunews.com

The Spring class of 2020 was the first group of students forced to celebrate their academic accomplishments virtually due the coronavirus pandemic. Since then, schools across the nation have altered their plans for commencement ceremonies to adhere to the COVID-19 guidelines set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

It’s been about a year since the COVID-19 outbreak and the CDC guidelines have changed, making it possible for in-person events. The Florida Board of Governors recently decided to leave decisions on Spring commencement ceremonies up to the universities.

According to the BOG website, the BOG has provided each institution in the State University System with a blueprint for Spring 2021 commencements that identifies critical elements to guide the 12 state schools as each one develops an individualized plan for Spring graduation.

Some of the schools in the SUS are pondering the idea of in-person commencement ceremonies for this spring, while others have already finalized their plans. In Tallahassee, Florida State University has announced that it would hold in-person commencement for Spring 2021 graduates.

According to FSU News, the university will hold 11 smaller commencement ceremonies at the Donald L. Tucker Civic Center over the course of two weekends. John Thrasher, FSU’s president, will serve as the speaker at the ceremonies.

“We plan to retain many elements of our traditional ceremonies while taking the necessary steps to ensure that we can gather in the safest way possible,” Thrasher said.

Florida A&M University’s commencement plan options are still under review, according to university officials. Provost Maurice Edington made it clear that the university’s primary focus is the safety of its students, faculty, staff and visitors.

“The health and safety of the participants is the primary concern,”Edingtontold The Famuan. “This is balanced with our desire to provide our graduates with a memorable experience, while also factoring in the logistical challenges with holding an in-person ceremony.”

Genyne Boston, faculty development director and assistant vice president, confirmed that FAMU’s commencement committee is working toward a final decision on Spring commencement ceremonies.

“We recognize that commencement is an important celebration in the life of our campus community, particularly our students, and we intend to introduce a plan that adheres to both BOG and CDC guidelines,” Boston said.

One of the options currently under review is an outdoor commencement ceremony at Bragg Memorial Stadium. “FAMU has previously held commencement ceremonies at Bragg stadium,” Edingtonsaid. “It is under consideration as a possible scenario.”

According to the blueprint, an outdoor venue is preferable to an indoor one, due to size and reduced opportunities for the virus spread. FAMU officials have also reviewed the option of a drive-through or walk-through ceremony.

“I want our graduates to know that their safety is our primary concern, and that we understand and appreciate the desire to have an in-person commencement ceremony,” Edington said. “We are working very hard to explore a variety of scenarios.”

FAMU will announce its Spring 2021 commencement plan in early March. Students, family and friends can check the commencement webpage for updates.