WT Will Host Virtual Commencement Ceremony in December

Copy by Chip Chandler, 806-651-2124, [email protected]

CANYON, Texas — After weeks of careful consideration, West Texas A&M University officials today announced that its December 2020 graduation ceremonies will be held online.

“We realize that many students and their families still long for the traditional graduation ceremony. We do, too,” saidUniversity President Dr. Walter Wendler. “But with COVID-19 cases still skyrocketing, we cannot, in good conscious, host anin-person ceremony.”

The decision comes following several candid discussions between University administrators, as well as with community leaders and health experts.

“We have been wrestling mightily with this,” Wendler said. “But we have to balance the very real possibility of widespreadinfections with the desire to gather together as Buffs to celebrate the December class of 2020.

We understand the importance of in-person graduation, and we have tentative plans for smallscale ceremonies for the 2020 and 2021 graduates across multiple Fridays in March, April, and May,” Wendler said.

Students graduating in December may elect to attend the spring2021 commencement ceremonies. Additional details will be released soon.

“We have weighed every option, including hosting six different ceremonies inside the First United Bank Center with a limited number of guests, or hosting one ceremony outside in Buffalo Stadium,” said Dr. Neil Terry, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs. “But we take our responsibility seriously to keep our students and their families safe when they’re on our campus, and we feel that the best way to do that is to hold a virtual ceremony.”

Faculty and student representatives support the decision.

We know that we would risk hosting a super-spreader event should we have any kind of in-person commencement, and that’s not a risk worth taking in the middle of a pandemic,” said Jeffry Babb, Faculty Senate president. “Our virtual commencement ceremony in May was quite successful and celebrated our students and their accomplishments as best as possible in these circumstances. The faculty appreciates the administration’s careful consideration in this matter.

“I know many of my fellow students were hoping for an in-person option,” said Seth Rodriguez, student body president, “but I hope we all understand that we have to look at the bigger picture and keep our loved ones and our community safe during these difficult times.”

WT is committed to serving both the campus and the community, as detailed in the University’s long-term plan, WT 125: From the Panhandle to the World.

About West Texas A&M University

WT is located in Canyon, Texas, on a 342-acre residential campus. Established in 1910, the University has been part of The Texas A&M University System since 1990. With enrollment of more than 10,000, WT offers 60 undergraduate degree programs, 38 master’s degrees and two doctoral degrees. The University is also home to the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum, the largest history museum in the state and the home of one of the Southwest’s finest art collections. The Buffaloes are a member of the NCAA Division II Lone Star Conference and offers 15 men’s and women’s athletics programs.