An Oklahoma State University student sits by himself at Theta Pond as the university declared it was shutting down the campus, March 25, in Stillwater.

Oklahoma State University’s winter commencement ceremony is going digital.

Announced Wednesday by OSU President Burns Hargis, this is a shift from an earlier plan that would include in-person ceremonies for both fall graduates and those who graduated in spring and summer 2020.

Hargis made the announcement in a letter published to social media.

“Celebrating the important milestone of graduation is a long-standing tradition and commitment at Oklahoma State University. This fall that celebration – like many other live events now – will look different,” Hargis wrote. “After much discussion and our continuing concern for the safety of our campus community, we have made the difficult decision to hold virtual commencement ceremonies in December.

“We know this is a disappointment for our graduates and their families. However, attempting to hold an in-person ceremony with social distancing and other safety protocols is not feasible considering our commencements draw large crowds inside Gallagher-Iba Arena and to move outside that time of year is not practical.”

Stillwater and Payne County has been in a downward trend of active COVID-19 cases since spiking at more than 450 in early September. OSU publishes COVID-19 data on Tuesdays with case counts and percentages for the previous weeks. OSU listed 294 active cases through Sept. 20, which includes those tested by University Health Services and those who self-report.

OSU’s current plan still includes in-person, on-campus classes through the Thanksgiving break, with pre finals and finals week – from Nov. 30 to Dec. 11 – being conducted online. OSU has not announced a plan for the spring semester.

Hargis said the school is planning the online ceremonies for Dec. 11-12, which will roll in spring, summer and fall degree candidates. He said the school is planning “creative and meaningful commencement ceremonies with a personal touch.” More details will be provided in the future.

“OSU is proud of the way students, faculty and staff have responded to the upheaval caused by COVID-19,” he wrote. “To hold in-person classes and continue our academic mission has been challenging, but we have persevered thanks to everyone’s hard work and cooperation.

“I appreciate your understanding as we once again must alter our commencement approach. Despite the challenges and health risks COVID-19 creates, we look forward to celebrating the achievements of our graduates.”

Recommended for you