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K-State Today Special Issue

November 6, 2020

Kansas State University scales back commencement plans due to COVID-19 surge

Submitted by Communications and Marketing

Due to a current and projected surge in statewide COVID-19 cases, Kansas State University is streamlining commencement ceremonies planned for Nov. 20-22. The new plan calls for no speeches or processionals, but students will still have their name called in an on-stage recognition, and a photo opportunity in regalia with a diploma cover. Family members and friends will be invited to attend virtually, as the university does not want to promote travel during an expanding pandemic. Previous plans included short commencement addresses and allowed each student to have two guests.

“We understand the importance of these ceremonies to our graduates, faculty and staff,” said Richard B. Myers, president of the university. “However, given the recent surge in cases and the consequent strain on medical resources throughout the state, we must take every precaution with these events. We know these changes will cause disappointment, but our first priority is the safety of the K-State family and our host communities.”

The university is extending the opportunity for spring, summer and fall 2020 graduates to postpone participation in commencement until spring 2021. Details about the combined ceremonies will be shared in the coming months.

“Our graduates have shown a tremendous amount of resiliency with the change and uncertainty they have experienced with the pandemic,” said Charles Taber, provost and executive vice president. “While the streamlined ceremony will be different than our typical graduation, we still look forward to celebrating the achievements of our students.”

The university has made extensive plans to provide physical distancing during the ceremonies and follow best practices with regard to COVID-19. County health officials have been consulted about plans. A major concern is the amount of social gathering that typically occurs alongside commencement events, as graduates and their families celebrate their achievements. 

“I appreciate K-State’s leadership in looking out for the health and safety of students and their families, faculty and staff, and our community by making these additional adjustments to their plans for the commencement ceremonies, which seems appropriate at this time,” said Manhattan Mayor Usha Reddi. “I know the commencement ceremonies are special milestone and I think this is a good solution to address all concerns. I ask that everyone celebrate responsibly while protecting the health of each other.”

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