Spring commencement for the Class of 2020 has been moved online as coronavirus disruptions continue, President Burwell wrote in an email to the AU community on Monday morning. The University plans to hold a special December 2020 commencement for May graduates as well.
With the announcement, AU joins a growing list of universities that have canceled, postponed or adjusted their spring commencements. The news comes less than two weeks after the University moved all classes online, and coincides with 18 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the AU community as of March 29.
“This moment is difficult for our entire community, and we are all adjusting to the upheaval caused by COVID-19,” Burwell said in the email. “To our graduates, please know that we all share in your heartbreak right now. But if there is one thing I know to be 100 percent true about American University students, it’s that you are resilient, generous, and service-minded. You will not let this deter you or diminish your spirit.”
Burwell wrote that she recognized how disappointing the decision was, but the danger in hosting a large in-person gathering was too great. The University considered a rescheduled commencement for August but the uncertain nature of the pandemic made it impossible to plan.
“We have some exciting ideas for May, including recognitions from your schools and colleges, engagement with alumni, and sharing tributes and memories on social media,” she said.
Burwell also thanked School of Public Affairs senior Yazan Hanouneh for collecting nearly 300 survey responses from seniors about their thoughts on commencement.
This is a developing story and it will be updated as more information becomes available. Readers can refer to the Eagle’s dedicated coronavirus page for related news.