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Statement from President Heather Wilson to Graduates about December Commencement

Last Updated on November 13, 2020 at 11:00 AM

Originally published November 13, 2020

By UC Staff

UTEP Communications

“I know many of you have been waiting for a decision about plans for December Commencement.

President Heather Wilson announced the decision to postpone December 2020 Commencement to May 2021.
President Heather Wilson announced the decision to postpone December 2020 Commencement to May 2021.

The University of Texas at El Paso President Heather Wilson provides an update on Fall 2020 Commencement. Video by UTEP Communications

We tried a virtual ceremony in September and it was disappointing. It seemed more like a reminder of what we couldn’t do than a real recognition of your accomplishment. 

We asked our 2020 graduates about what you wanted.

We really wanted to make some kind of December ceremony happen if a manageable number of students wanted to do that. But about 45% of your class prefers a December in-person graduation – which is a lot higher than we expected. 

We’ve waited as long as we can to make a decision, hoping that the public health situation would improve. But it hasn’t. Even if we break it into multiple ceremonies, we don’t think we can pull off a meaningful graduation in December in the current conditions.

After taking into consideration your preferences and the public health conditions, we have decided to postpone the Winter Commencement ceremony until May 2021.

In May, we will plan to hold a big, outdoor Commencement at Sun Bowl Stadium and invite graduates from spring, summer and fall 2020 to participate.

There is a lot of planning that goes into an in-person Commencement ceremony – everything from buying regalia and bringing in outside contractors to livestream the event. We are also sensitive to the needs of students who may have family members coming from out of town for the big day. 

There are other campus events – like sports – where we don’t have to decide a month in advance. As you have seen this fall, we have had to cancel games or fan attendance at games 48 hours before they started. 

We don’t have the same flexibility with Commencement, so we have to make a decision now.

A year ago, my own daughter graduated from college. It was a really big deal and a wonderful day. We want to give that same experience to you and your families. I’m really sorry it won’t be in December. 

When it does happen, I want to let you know, I’m going to do everything I can to make it an absolutely wonderful day.

God bless you all, and Go Miners.”