In lieu of the traditional commencement ceremony replete with academic regalia, caps and gowns and smiling graduates crossing a stage to receive diplomas, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University sent its record spring graduating class commencement celebration packages.
Dr. Anette Karlson, chancellor at the ERAU Prescott campus, said social distancing requirements prompted by COVID-19 led to that decision. She said a more formal ceremony has been rescheduled for Oct. 2. More details will be announced this summer.
The 2020 spring graduating class was a record-setter, with 457 students receiving undergraduate or graduate degrees.
Graduates Received Individualized Packages
University faculty and staff dedicated hours to creating the commencement celebration packages. They recognized all graduates and compiled lists of special honors and awards that celebrated distinguished students.
Details provided by Lori Kennedy, assistant director of graduation, described several activities that had been put in place to honor graduates.
Individualized packages contained the following:
- A diploma cover and a personal letter from Chancellor Karlson.
- A special message from ERAU President Barry Butler, whose office is at the Daytona Beach, Fla., campus.
- Awards, plaques, certificates and sashes and cords appropriate to each graduate.
- A unique ERAU gift — a model airplane with the ERAU logo.
- An alumni letter and lapel pin.
The packages were mailed to each graduating student and timed to arrive as close as possible to the original graduation date of May 2.
On that day, students did watch an online program where they could see some congratulatory messages from the chancellor, vice chancellor, college deans and dean of students.
Hope for October Festivities
Karlson said she was proud of the way the graduating students accommodated to the challenges of completing the semester, even with the complications created by the pandemic: “I hope to see all these graduates at our rescheduled commencement ceremony in October so we can give them the recognition and honor they deserve.”
That is the same weekend that has been announced for the annual OctoberWest Homecoming activities and the Wings Out West Air Show.
“This is an important event for us. Our graduating students worked extremely hard, and their families made tremendous sacrifices, especially this year considering the current circumstances. What better way to honor, recognize and celebrate their academic achievements than by welcoming them back to Prescott for homecoming and the air show,” Karlson said.