MARYVILLE, Tenn. — Commencement exercises for Maryville College’s Class of 2020 have been set for Sat., Dec. 19, according to a release from the college.
The announcement comes nearly one month after administrators postponed the May 2 Commencement ceremony due to the COVID-19 outbreak, Maryville College President Dr. Tom Bogart told students, faculty and staff in an email memo.
Bogart said he and other college administrators had undertaken a “deliberate and lengthy process to discuss, assess and monitor federal and state guidance to help shape the decision-making process.”
The new date falls on the Saturday following fall semester exams, which are now scheduled to end Dec. 16.
The ceremony will begin at 3:30 p.m. in the Ronald and Lynda Nutt Theatre of the Clayton Center for the Arts, according to the college. Due to limited seating, tickets will be required of attendees, and details of ticket distribution will be shared at a later date.
“We know that it is extremely important to these graduates that they have an event where they can celebrate with each other, with their professors and staff mentors and with their loved ones,” Bogart stated in the memo. “Like our seniors, we, too, are disappointed that a Spring ceremony is not a safe option, but the severity of the COVID-19 outbreak in the Southeast renders the safety of public gatherings uncertain. We are hopeful that by December, many of the restrictions and guidelines dictating social isolation will be relaxed.”
As in previous years, Boydson Baird Gymnasium inside Cooper Athletic Center will be set up with a large screen so that family members and friends can watch the ceremony live. Additionally, the ceremony will be live-streamed on the Maryville College website to enable viewing by those who are unable to make it to campus, according to the college.
The college said Tom Taylor, Maryville College alumnus and mayor of the city of Maryville, will be the Commencement speaker and, during the ceremony, will receive the honorary doctor of public service degree. (Mayor Taylor had been asked to give the Commencement address on May 2.)
The College’s Baccalaureate service also will be held Dec. 19 in the Ronald and Lynda Nutt Theatre. Bogart, who was asked by the graduating class months ago to deliver the Baccalaureate sermon, will speak.
The service begins at 10 a.m. and will be live-streamed through the College’s official Facebook page.
Although his presidential term ends June 30, Bogart will participate in the afternoon Commencement ceremony as well, handing diplomas to members of the last class to graduate under his leadership.
“[Maryville College president-elect] Dr. [Bryan] Coker graciously invited me to play a prominent role in both of these ceremonies, and I gladly accepted,” Bogart said. “I am looking forward to sharing the stage – and this happy occasion – with him.”
The College was working to have a virtual Commencement ceremony online on May 9, which is the Saturday following spring semester exams.
“Even though we cannot have the May ceremony on the Anderson Hall lawn, we do want to mark the date in a meaningful way,” Bogart wrote in the memo. “We hope to share video messages from class leaders and display photos of all the seniors who would have walked on May 2.”
A committee of administrators, staff and seniors is being organized to finalize the details of Dec. 19 and other related graduation activities for the Class of 2020.