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'I’m still kind of in shock' Triad universities postponing spring graduations due to coronavirus

UNC System's interim President announced all UNC schools are likely to experience a disruption in their spring graduations.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Seniors in several UNC system schools across the state are capping off their final spring semester, but this year, they won't get their gown or walk across the stage in May.

Interim President of UNC System Bill Roper announced all schools under the umbrella of UNC's system are would likely experience disruptions to their spring graduation ceremonies. Speaking before the UNC Board of Governors Friday, Roper said the complexities of the coronavirus situation would force the rescheduling. 

UNC Systems emphasized, however, the individual schools would be responsible for postponements, cancellations and the ensuing rescheduling.

Hours later, UNC Greensboro, Winston-Salem State University, North Carolina A&T and UNC School of the Arts postponed their graduations in official releases. All schools expressed their empathy for the disappointment this may cause to students but did not give an official timeline as to when the graduations will be rescheduled.

"I'm angry," said UNCG senior Katrina Grier, "because I’m a first-generation college student so my mom and dad and my grandparents they didn’t go to college that was a big deal so they were really looking forward to graduation."

Caitlyn Carr is another member of UNCG's graduating class and despite the news, she and classmate Kendall Fegley came to campus in their caps and gowns Friday afternoon to take graduation photos.

"We had it planned so we just decided to keep it," said Carr.

They said it's the most normal thing they've done in a while.

"I will do my part in protecting society and trying to make sure everyone is safe and healthy... but it's ok for it to be hard. It is sad and I don't feel guilty for being sad about it," said Carr.

They said wanted a chance to smile and think about the uncertainty we're all dealing with.

"You just got to take the little things and be happy about them," said Fegley.

In a separate memo released to UNC Charlotte, Roper indicated the UNCC ceremonies will take place in either August or December. Before the UNC Board of Governors, Roper emphasized there are many variables to reschedule each graduation. He said he understands students may be frustrated in dealing with the effects of the coronavirus crisis.

"This will disappoint our students and their families, who have worked toward this goal for so many years. But the health and safety of our students, faculty, and staff must be our top priority. We will work with our Chancellors as they consider how to celebrate academic achievement in due course," Roper said before the UNC Board of Governors.

The decision was made in line with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's recommendation to cancel or postpone events with 50 people for the next eight weeks, Roper said.

"Commencement is one of our most cherished traditions, and we remain fully committed to celebrating this important day when we can ensure the health and safety of our graduates and their families," Roper said.

"I am confident that things are going to get better" Roper continued, "But I am also confident that it’s going to get worse before it gets better, but it will get better."

Here are the 17 UNC system schools and their plans for graduation ceremonies (if information is available): 

  1. Appalachian State University - no decision yet 
  2. East Carolina University - graduation postponed 
  3. Elizabeth City State University - no decision yet
  4. Fayetteville State University
  5. North Carolina A&T University - graduation postponed
  6. North Carolina Central University
  7. North Carolina State University - no decision yet 
  8. North Carolina School of Science and Math
  9. University of North Carolina at Asheville
  10. University of North Carolina at Charlotte - graduation postponed
  11. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill - graduation postponed
  12. University of North Carolina at Greensboro - graduation postponed
  13. University of North Carolina at Pembroke
  14. University of North Carolina School of the Arts - graduation postponed
  15. University of North Carolina at Wilmington - no decision yet
  16. Western Carolina University
  17. Winston-Salem State University - graduation postponed

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