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Local colleges putting graduation ceremonies on hold

By Carl Blankenship
carl.blankenship@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY – Rowan-Cabarrus Community College, Livingstone College and Catawba College have all postponed May graduation ceremonies in response to the outbreak of COVID-19, joining other institutions across the state who have either postponed, canceled or moved ceremonies online.

Livingstone and Catawba have opted to only postpone the ceremonies. Livingstone made the announcement on March 25 and Catawba did the same on Friday.

Rowan-Cabarrus has not made a final decision on what date graduation would be postponed to, moved online or if some students would prefer to just be mailed their diplomas. The community college is surveying its students to find out what they would prefer.

“We really wanted to take the time to ask them,” said Chief Advancement Officer Sarah Walker. “It’s so important to students.”

Walker said some students at Rowan-Cabarrus will transfer to four-year institutions after they graduate or find employment elsewhere and may not be available for an in-person ceremony later in the year.

“We want to find out what will be most meaningful for a majority of students and make a decision accordingly,” Walker said.

Livingstone made the decision to postpone graduation until December and combine its spring commencement ceremony with winter commencement, which the school has held since 2014.

“With all of the uncertainties, we have decided, in concert with our other institutions of higher education, to postpone commencement,” Livingstone President Jimmy Jenkins said in a news release.

Catawba College Dean of Students Jared Tice said the college is planning on holding commencement activities in the fall and the college has presented its seniors with dates to consider in a survey.

“It was definitely a difficult decision for the leadership at the institution.”

Tice said Gov. Roy Cooper’s stay-at-home order precipitated that decision, and the college will decide when the ceremony will take place at a later date.

“I know our seniors are disappointed,” Tice said, adding students responding to the survey have been understanding of the situation and grateful the college will honor the graduation ceremony at some point.

Tice college is making plans if it needs to consider altering its fall calendars depending on the state of the pandemic.

Catawba filmed a video of President Brien Lewis delivering a thank you message to the entire campus community.

“We remain in touch, we remain here for you whether it’s from our offices on campus or remotely,” Lewis said.

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