Due to impending COVID-19 threats, East Carolina University Interim Chancellor Ron Mitchelson made an announcement on March 20 to postpone commencement ceremonies. Originally scheduled for May 8 and 9, commencement will now be a virtual event and in person events will take place later in the year.
In the announcement, Mitchelson said that though himself and the university are disappointed with the decision to move to a virtual commencement, it is the safest decision to make.
“May’s in-person commencement celebrations, including unit and departmental ceremonies and Grad Bash, will not be held. We know you are disappointed. We are too,” Mitchelson said in the announcement.
Seniors at ECU will not be able to have the traditional commencement ceremony, but it is unclear what exactly the virtual event will consist of.
Senior public health major Nick Digiovannantonio said he is left unsatisfied with how he will leave ECU.
“I appreciate that they're making an effort but it isn't the same, but you don’t get that concluding feeling. We can’t have our final goodbyes,” Digiovannantonio said.
Digiovanantonio said he also plays for the club ice hockey team at ECU and that winter sports finished before spring break but others club, intramural, and varsity sports had their season cut short.
“Luckily we were able to finish up before the time came but for athletes who worked so hard to get to nationals and regionals it was all for nothing, ”Digiovannantonio said.
Before the decision and announcement was made, conversations were being held in the UNC school systems office on possible plans and logistics in the days before the announcement made by Chancellor Michelson according to Associate Vice Chancellor and co-chair for ECU Commencement Chris Stansbury in an email statement.
“There are conversations being held at the University and UNC System Office about commencement programs on all UNC campuses,” Stansbury said in the statement. “We don’t have a definitive answer at this time. We expect to hear something in the coming week or two. We are considering many other options at this time and will share it broadly when a decision has been made.”
Senior mechanical engineering major Emiliano Maltrana will also graduate this spring and said he is most disappointed that he will not get to walk across the stage after his hard work.
“I am mostly disappointed, I guess I would say I am mostly disappointed that my parents won’t be able to watch me walk, I know it’s the thing my mom was looking forward to the most and now it won’t happen,” Maltrana said.
Maltrana said his family is experiencing unfortunate circumstances without seeing him walk across the stage.
“I’m happy to be graduating and happy to not have to go to class anymore but it has ruined the good memories with my friends and family that I would have had as a last semester senior,” Maltrana said.
As of March 20, virtual commencement will be held on the usual date, May 8. An in-person ceremony is expected to take place later this year according to Ron Mitchelson’s announcement. More details can be found on the ECU commencement website.