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A Message Regarding Fall 2020 Commencement

Dear students, families, faculty and staff, 

Due to the recent surge in COVID-19 cases in the state and region, I have made the difficult decision to cancel the modified in-person commencement ceremonies scheduled for Dec. 10-13 and shift to a series of virtual ceremonies.

The rescheduled events will be livestreamed beginning at 9 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 12, with the announcement of the names of all members of the spring, summer and fall 2020 graduating classes.

The virtual ceremonies will include remarks from me, Provost Richard Starnes and deans of WCU’s academic colleges. Peter Hans, president of the University of North Carolina System; Bryant Kinney, chair of the WCU Board of Trustees; and Phil Byers, member of the UNC Board of Governors, also will deliver virtual greetings to the graduates.

This decision absolutely breaks my heart. Commencement is a major milestone, and I know how much our students and their families were looking forward to participating in an in-person commencement ceremony, even a no-frills event like we were planning for our 2020 graduating classes. We must make the health and safety of all members of our campus community, as well as our Jackson County neighbors, our top priority. County officials were concerned, and rightfully so, at the thought of thousands of students, parents and other loved ones coming into town during this surge of coronavirus cases.

I am very thankful to the commencement committee for their dedication and commitment to ensure graduation is a meaningful experience to our students. I am proud that WCU was the only UNC System school to plan an in-person commencement ceremony. While circumstances did not allow us to execute that plan, we look forward to celebrating all of our 2020 graduates on Dec. 12.

We are not planning to reschedule in-person commencement ceremonies for 2020 graduates, but we are exploring the possibility of other special in-person alumni recognition opportunities for members of the 2020 graduating classes when conditions allow. More details will be announced at a later time.

Other information about WCU’s virtual commencement ceremonies will be forthcoming. Information also will be available online at


Kelli R. Brown

Office of Web Services