Office of the President
Mon 3/19/2020 5:18 PM
Subject: COVID-19: Commencement – A Message from President Clark
Dear BSU community,
With all of us watching the fast-moving news regarding the Coronavirus crisis, this announcement will probably come as no surprise. Even so, it is difficult for me to write these words knowing the importance of the moment for our graduating students. I am truly saddened to share with you the disappointing announcement that, due to ongoing prohibitions of large gatherings, as well as BSU’s own efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, we need to reschedule our graduate and undergraduate commencement ceremonies. Those ceremonies had been scheduled respectively for Thursday, May 14, and Saturday, May 16.
Fifty-two years ago, BSU canceled a commencement in the immediate aftermath of the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy. In 2018, on the occasion of the Class of 1968’s 50th reunion, BSU held a long-delayed commencement ceremony for the members of that class who were able to attend. The emotion of that event (there were very few dry eyes) led me to vow at the time that I would never cancel a commencement. I intend to keep that promise.
Having been a part of more than 40 ceremonies in my various roles, I deeply understand why commencement is so important. For every class, and for every student and their family, commencement is a beautiful moment, an important milestone, and a shining symbol of a hard-earned achievement. It is also an opportunity for our entire campus community to embrace our graduates one at a time, celebrate their accomplishments, shake their hands, wish them a heartfelt farewell and best wishes as they go forth in the world, and welcome them to the BSU alumni family.
For those reasons, our commencement planning team is already busy at work developing various alternative plans for how and when BSU will honor our 2020 graduates. As we move forward in considering such plans, I invite input from our graduating students for whom this day means so much. Starting tomorrow, we will seek your feedback through our BSU social media channels. As our plans take shape, we will keep you updated.
As we steadily advance toward providing our students with online and remote learning classes beginning on Monday, I would like to again offer my sincerest gratitude to our faculty, librarians, staff and students for working so effectively and quickly to make this unprecedented shift during this remarkably challenging time. I will have a further update for our campus community next Monday, March 23rd on several other significant issues including refunds, building access, and other issues.
Thank you all for the resilience, grace, patience, and compassion that you have demonstrated over these trying days and weeks. As I said on Saturday, our BSU heroes are everywhere, and we will accomplish our goals and succeed. We are, after all, BSU Bears, and “We’ve Got This!”
Frederick W. Clark Jr., Esq.