Commencement 2020 Update
We have made it through our first week of online classes and our first full week of working remotely – and we made it together! This is not an easy time for any of us and there are many hard decisions that are being made every day as this pandemic continues to evolve. We write today to share decisions that, though likely not unexpected, are still very difficult to accept because we are a community that values our time together on campus.
As we’ve communicated previously, the college’s Pandemic Planning Task Force has been carefully reviewing the guidance provided by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the World Health Organization, and from Pennsylvania State health officials. Given the current situation, and based on the recommendation of the Pandemic Planning Task Force, the decision has been made to continue to deliver classes online throughout the remainder of the spring 2020 semester.
The team did not come to this decision lightly. Taking into account CDC and state recommendations, as well as current coronavirus trends across the country and the globe, it is clear that asking students to return to campus before the end of the semester from areas that have been heavily impacted by the coronavirus – including surrounding counties in Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey – would put many people at risk.
We also wanted to remove some of the uncertainty for students and faculty, who can now finalize and move forward with their plans and coursework over the remainder of the semester.
What about commencement?
In addition, and given the ongoing pandemic and its evolution, the commencement team has made their recommendation, which we have accepted. It is with a heavy heart that we share the news that Albright’s class of 2020 commencement ceremony will not be held on May 17.
Although we all hope to be back to normal as soon as possible, it is important at this time that we consider the safety, planning and travel needs of Albright’s graduates and families, and to keep with Governor Tom Wolf’s directives for social distancing and closure of physical locations around the state of Pennsylvania, such as Santander Arena.
Do not worry – even without the pomp and circumstance of commencement, you still are a graduate of Albright College. Commencement is truly “ceremonial” and does not affect the college’s ability to confer degrees. Diplomas will be mailed to class of 2020 graduates as soon as they are available.
We recognize the fact that our seniors have worked hard and deserve to celebrate their achievements among family and friends. And, we wish to celebrate with you all! Therefore, the college’s Commencement Committee, consisting of faculty, students and staff, is carefully considering a range of later dates for in-person celebrations – as well as a number of creative ways to celebrate student accomplishments virtually. Finalized plans will be announced with enough notice for graduates and their families to participate, if they wish to do so.
Students with innovative ideas or suggestions of dates on which to honor the class of 2020 are encouraged to contact Kathy L. Cafoncelli ’99, chair of the Commencement Committee, at firstname.lastname@example.org, and/or Commencement Committee student representatives, Faith Guzzo ’20 and Allison Ulaky ’20, at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org, respectively.
Will I get a refund for room and board? How can I get the things in my room?
The decision to remain online, of course, leads to the question that many of you have already asked, “Will there be refunds for room and board?” We are currently evaluating how best to handle refunds, and because some students left campus before others, we are assessing how to make it fair to all parties. We will be communicating with students and families soon on how we plan to move forward. Additionally, we know that many are concerned about being able to gather belongings from the residence halls. Though we are abiding by the governor’s current orders, we will continue to assess the coronavirus situation and when it has been determined that it is safe for students to return to campus, we will make arrangements for students to return to their rooms to collect their things. In the meantime, know that your belongings are safely locked in your rooms and are not being disturbed.
We know that this news is disappointing. We are a community that values our time together and celebrating one another’s accomplishments. Please know that although our interactions are taking on a different form right now, we continue to celebrate our special community of Albrightians.
Please take time to care for yourself and celebrate every accomplishment. Speak on the phone and video chat with friends and family, post your positive moments on social media and tag Albright College, and look forward to better times ahead when we can all be together again.
With best wishes for a successful (online) semester,
Jacquelyn S. Fetrow, Ph.D., ’82
President and Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry
Karen A. Campbell, Ph.D.
Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs
Samantha J. Wesner, DNP, CRNP, WHNP-BC
Senior Vice President of Student and Campus Life and Chief Health Officer