Virtual commencements likely to continue as pandemic lingers

ATHEN, WV (WOAY) – Earlier this year, colleges everywhere canceled their graduation ceremonies and held virtual ones to keep students safe during the pandemic.

And that trend is likely to continue for this year’s fall graduations as well. Concord University is preparing for their fall commencement ceremony right now, and they say this one will be virtual just like the last one, but thankfully they have more time to prepare.

“We had planned on doing a traditional gathering in the gym and we had actually started setting up. And then we had to shift gears and pretty much put everything online and figure out a way to do it virtually,” said William Bailey, the Radio & TV Services Manager with Concord.

The process is lengthy for preparing a virtual ceremony. Instead of calling each student’s name and them walking across the stage, their name is announced and a personal slide about them shows up. Faculty work with students well in advance to make sure things go smoothly.

“It takes about three of use to reach out to the students, collect all those slides and put them in a place where I can organize them and put them together in a video format.”

Concord says their production value is higher for this ceremony compared to the one earlier this year. They’ve had more time to prepare and can simply make this one better as a result. And holding the best virtual commencement possible is just one way of showing their support for the students.

“It’s something that we look forward to every semester and it really is a celebration. To not have that gathering is really disappointing and it’s heartbreaking for a lot of people to not be able to walk across that stage in person. So we feel it’s very important that these students are recognized for their achievements.”

The ceremony will take place next week, December 12 at 11 A.M. And will premiere entirely online.