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No traditional graduation at Illinois State, Illinois Wesleyan universities; alternatives planned
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No traditional graduation at Illinois State, Illinois Wesleyan universities; alternatives planned

BLOOMINGTON — The traditional commencement ceremonies at Illinois State and Illinois Wesleyan universities have been canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic both institutions announced Friday morning.

Each university is looking at alternatives to mark the occasion.

IWU also announced Friday that it will continue plans for “remote instruction” through the end of the semester and its May Term. ISU, the University of Illinois, Heartland Community College and many other schools also have extended the switch to online instruction through the end of spring semester.

Current guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention call for no events to be held with 50 or more people through May 10.

IWU’s commencement was originally scheduled for May 3 and ISU’s ceremonies were scheduled for May 8 and 9.

IWU President Georgia Nugent said in the announcement, “We are committed to finding alternatives to meaningfully celebrate our graduating seniors. We will be working with the senior committee to explore options and will communicate our plan to seniors and their families by April 1.”


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ISU announced Friday it will have a “web-based” ceremony with remarks by President Larry Dietz and other ISU officials. Students also will be able to submit photos for virtual ceremony recognition.

Each graduate will receive a commencement program book and diploma cover, with diplomas being mailed in the summer.

"Illinois State recognizes that the disruption caused by the pandemic has touched every aspect of life and that this is not the commencement that graduates, their families, and their friends were looking forward to," the university said in a statement.

Spring and summer graduates will be invited to participate in ISU's winter commencement ceremonies, scheduled for Dec. 12.

Nugent said IWU’s decision to cancel commencement and any further in-person classes this semester was a very difficult, but necessary one.

“We recognize this decision will be a great disappointment for our students, who were looking forward to returning to campus and re-connecting with faculty and friends,” she said. “I am particularly pained by what this means for our seniors and their expectations at this time.”

Nugent added, "These are unprecedented times, and obviously not the experiences that any of us were anticipating. But our faculty and staff are hard at work in finding new and creative ways to stay connected with our students and to continue their education, although in new venues, with the same close attention that Illinois Wesleyan can distinctively deliver."

Contact Lenore Sobota at (309) 820-3240. Follow her on Twitter: @Pg_Sobota

“We recognize this decision will be a great disappointment for our students, who were looking forward to returning to campus and reconnecting with faculty and friends. I am particularly pained by what this means for our seniors and their expectations at this time.”

IWU President Georgia Nugent

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