On March 16, we told our students it was time to move home if they were able.
When this first began, there was hope that we could be back for an in-person commencement celebration and our end-of-semester activities. But that quickly became clearly impossible with the travel restrictions and requirements for physical distancing.
What we decided on was to stick with the original date, which is this Sunday, April 26. At Goshen College, we are very fortunate to have wonderful venues and excellent film and recording and live-streaming capabilities, so we decided that we would put together a virtual commencement for our graduating seniors. It will recognize a lot of what our seniors have accomplished this year that normally would have been recognized in other ways.
I hope that it is something that is really meaningful and represents their Goshen College experience and gives them a sense of connectedness with each other and with the college.
The whole thing runs about an hour and 20 minutes. There will be slide shows that help commemorate our students’ artistic and athletic accomplishments. We will read the names of every student and show their photographs since they can’t walk across the stage. We will hear reflections from some student speakers. We will hear a message from our board of directors and my commencement address.
There have been extraordinary adaptations and flexibility here at the college. The week where students needed to move out in 72 hours, and faculty needed to move their courses online in less than a week…people just showed enormous voluntarism and flexibility and creativity.
Not to say that any of us feel happy about this. They’re not choices that anybody wanted to make. But in the moment, I think there was a widespread recognition that this was the right thing to do. It’s what we had to do to keep each other healthy and protect the health of our community. It’s been extraordinary to watch it happen – not without its frustrations and awkward moments and confusion, but also with just a lot of heart and goodwill and flexibility.
Do you have a story you want to tell?
Do you have a story to tell about someone who contributes to Goshen’s greater GOOD?
We invite you to share!