The COVID-19 pandemic is prompting the University of Montana to cancel its traditional Spring commencement activities.
The Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education has decided that there will not be a traditional spring commencement on May 9 in order to help slow the spread of COVID-19.
"We as a University share the disappointment of our graduates and their families. Commencement is a special day to celebrate the culmination of academic and personal achievements and is a hallowed occasion on our campus, marked by our students, faculty and staff," UM President Seth Bodnar said in a letter released on Friday.
Students are being asked to take a survey to help determine what this Spring's commencement ceremony might look like.
Below is the full letter sent out on Friday:
Dear UM Family,
As a University system, we waited for any good news that might mean we could host the spring 2020 Commencement ceremonies in person to celebrate this tremendous milestone together. However, to be fair to our graduates and their families who are making plans for the end of the semester, the time has come to make the decision. Today, we share the announcement from the Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education that there will not be a traditional spring Commencement at the University of Montana May 9 in order to help slow the spread of COVID-19.
We as a University share the disappointment of our graduates and their families. Commencement is a special day to celebrate the culmination of academic and personal achievements and is a hallowed occasion on our campus, marked by our students, faculty and staff.
To our graduates:
Just as we have planned for many unintended consequences of this global pandemic, we have planned for having to cancel or delay our University Commencement ceremony, as well. Our commencement committee has looked at myriad options and come up with a tentative plan for ways we believe will help you and your families celebrate now and later in Grizzly style. And, because this is YOUR graduation, we ask you to weigh in on what we are proposing. You will be able to take a quick survey at the end of this message and give us your thoughts. Since the ceremony is for and about you, we are eager to read what you think and feel.
Here is what we are tentatively planning:
First, we would like to mark May 9 this spring with something special. It will not replace your ceremony, nor is it meant to. It will be a video marking your time on campus and showcasing some of the people, places and programs that make this institution uniquely UM.
Second, we would like to host you and your families in September or October for a Commencement ceremony on campus. From the procession on the Oval to the tossing of hats in the Adams Center, we will all watch you walk across the stage and receive your much-deserved and hard-earned diploma — just as you would have this May.
Third, we also are developing a plan — for those unable to get back to campus for a ceremony — to bring commencement to you. In late summer and early fall, we will hit the road in our trusty bus and deliver Commencement to you in communities across Montana and the region. These would be smaller ceremonies in which you and your family will be able to join the provost, a few deans, some faculty members, our staff and myself as we confer your degrees in or near your hometowns.
Marking your graduation from UM this spring might not look like we were expecting, but we are determined to honor you in a way that is meaningful and memorable. Please take this survey [umt.co1.qualtrics.com] and give us your thoughts, graduates. We will adapt our tentative plans based on your feedback.
You likely will hear from your college or school in the next few days about special, more intimate ceremonies that will allow you to celebrate with faculty and staff who have been there for you since you began your UM journey. We hope you will make every effort to attend those ceremonies, as well.
Again, we understand this is not the way any of us wanted to mark such a momentous occasion. However, we will ensure it is special and imbues the Grizzly spirit.