CSUN’s administration is working towards having an in-person commencement in December, according to President Dianne F. Harrison and Vice President William Watkins in an interview with The Sundial.
Harrison first announced the postponement of commencement “until late fall” in an email to the campus on March 23. Commencement was originally scheduled for May.
“The forcing of postponement is the saddest decision I’ve ever had to make,” Harrison said.
Commencement was postponed to keep in line with social distancing measures. In-person classes and other events have also been canceled for the remainder of the semester.
According to Harrison, the ideal scenario is holding a commencement ceremony that is as close as possible to a traditional ceremony in December, but the university will assess health and safety conditions in September before making a final decision.
“Our decisions are based on science, health and safety and we are optimistic that the state of California is slowing the curve,” Harrison said.
CSUN set up an online form for students, faculty and staff to submit their ideas on alternative ways to recognize graduates. The form gives students the option between postponing the ceremony or holding it virtually.
Some universities across the country, like Penn State University, have opted for a virtual ceremony.
The idea of a virtual ceremony has not been well-received at CSUN.
“Around 2,200 students have submitted the form and a majority expressed a desire to physically come to campus for a ceremony,” Watkins said. “Student input is so important to us.”
According to Harrison, an in-person ceremony might be subject to certain social-distancing measures. For example, the university could forgo the act of shaking graduates’ hands when they walk the stage and limit the amount of ceremony tickets, according to Harrison.
“Whenever commencement is, I want it to be as close as possible to traditional ceremonies,” she said. “We want the experience to be the best for our students and their families. The question is just when.”
Watkins said CSUN is also monitoring other institutions for commencement ideas.
Harrison also postponed her own retirement until the end of the fall semester, in order to continue in her leadership role during the pandemic. She was originally set to retire in June.
Questions regarding refund information or for purchasing graduation accessories can be found here.