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Oregon Tech’s June commencement meets need for student safety, unknowns of COVID-19 with a tech-delivered ceremony

Apr 11, 2020
The 2020 commencement ceremonies scheduled for June at the Klamath Falls and Portland-Metro campuses will be held instead as a combined virtual event, in response to the need for participant safety and for physical distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Oregon Institute of Technology (“Oregon Tech”) officials announced today that the 2020 commencement ceremonies scheduled for June at the Klamath Falls and Portland-Metro campuses will be held instead as a combined virtual event, in response to the need for participant safety and for physical distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.  
 
The Provost, faculty and administration carefully considered possible options over the last few weeks, including a delayed commencement ceremony. But given the unknowns about when Oregon’s stay-at-home and physical distancing requirements will be lifted, it is uncertain when an in-person event could be held. So for the Class of 2020, students from both campuses will join together virtually on June 13, with each of Oregon Tech’s colleges – Engineering, Technology and Management and Health, Arts and Sciences – having a separate event that day which students and their families can participate in through remote access. Details of the event will be developed by university commencement committees, which will include student involvement as well. 
 
"We recognize that this is a huge disappointment for our students and their families, as it is for us," Oregon Tech president Nagi Naganathan said. “But with our innovative students and campus community, we know that we can create a very special and memorable virtual ceremony to recognize the accomplishments of the Class of 2020. While we wish we knew what the future holds, and when Oregon Tech, the state and the nation will be ‘back to normal,’ we have to make the decision on commencement based on what we know today, and ensure a safe environment for our students and other participants." 
 
At the end of March, graduating seniors were asked to complete a survey to note their preferences for graduation events. Well over half of them responded, many of whom provided additional suggestions regarding how to make a virtual ceremony special for graduates, and others who noted a preference for an in-person event at some point in the future. As a reference, Oregon Tech’s class of 2019 numbered 751 individuals, with nearly 400 students participating in last year’s ceremonies. 
 
Dr. Naganathan added, “We would still like to provide the opportunity for graduates to have an in-person event. For those who can return to campus in June 2021, we have invited students to walk in the in-person ceremony at either the Klamath Falls or Portland-Metro ceremony, joining as our special graduates along with their student colleagues from the class of 2021.” 
 
Additional information on Oregon Tech’s COVID-19 response is available at www.oit.edu/coronavirus.
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