Gadsden State Community College is postponing its spring semester commencement ceremony due to coronavirus concerns, Dr. Martha Lavender, president, has confirmed.
In a memo on March 20 from Alabama Community College System Chancellor Jimmy Baker, community colleges were directed to cancel or postpone traditional graduation ceremonies due to coronavirus concerns. He encouraged rescheduling ceremonies or providing a virtual option to recognize graduating students. Each college submitted individual plans to Baker’s office.
“This is a difficult decision that I have not taken lightly,” Baker stated in the memo. “I recognize each college is different and has its own unique culture and sense of community. Our common thread is the deep commitment we have to serving our students and focusing on their successes.”
A plan to reschedule Gadsden State’s graduation was submitted to and approved by the chancellor. Original commencement exercises were scheduled for May 7 at Gadsden State’s Cherokee Arena.
“Graduation is a wonderful milestone and event for our students, their families and friends,” said Lavender. “It is important to us to be able to recognize the monumental achievement of college graduation.”
Ceremony information will be released after students are allowed to return to on-campus classes. Last week, Baker announced that all community college classes will continue online for the remainder of the spring semester.
In addition to graduation, Gadsden State also had to develop an alternative to its traditional Honors Day programs originally scheduled for April 20 on the Ayers Campus and April 21 on the Wallace Drive Campus. The ceremonies are hosted to recognize students receiving awards or scholarships.
“We understand that Honors Day is an important event for those receiving college-wide and program honors as well as students earning scholarships to further their education at four-year universities,” Lavender said. “It is our goal to honor those who have worked so hard during their time with us at Gadsden State.”
In an effort to announce the awards and scholarships prior to the graduation or transfer of those students being honored, the Honors Day programs will be hosted virtually on the Gadsden State website and on its YouTube channel and other social media platforms.
The Honors Day program for the Ayers Campus will tentatively post at 2 p.m. April 20 with the Wallace Drive Campus program posting at 2 p.m. April 21.
“Despite the unique circumstances that our state and communities are experiencing, we continue to be committed to recognizing students who have earned the wonderful distinction of being a Gadsden State graduate as well as an honoree at our Honors Day programs,” Lavender said. “Though the situation is much different this semester, we want our students to know they are valued and supported.”
Lavender said the college will provide updates on the commencement ceremony as well as Honors Day programs as they become available to www.gadsdenstate.edu.