Prior to Governor Ralph Northam’s recent update, Virginia Western determined it would host a virtual commencement ceremony in accordance with health and safety information developed by the CDC, the Virginia Department of Health and the Governor’s Office. The new limit for indoor events is a 500-person maximum, or 30 percent of a venue’s capacity. That is not enough to accommodate our college’s graduates, faculty and staff, even without counting an audience. While the state is now permitting outdoor ceremonies to have larger numbers of attendees, with corresponding safety measures, the limitations as well as availability of such locations in our region do not make a regular in-person Virginia Western graduation ceremony feasible this year.
The college’s re-opening plans this academic year have focused on making campus and academic settings as safe as possible for our students, faculty and staff. The Commonwealth is not in the vaccination phase for the majority of our employees and students, and we believe it is in the best interest of our community’s health to proceed with a virtual event. We look forward to planning a full in-person graduation ceremony next year.
Updated March 19, 2021
Graduation message from President Sandel
As we approach the midpoint of Spring Semester, I sincerely thank you for your resilience through this academic year and all the changes necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic. I know there have been many challenges as we have striven to keep our college community as safe as possible. Our students’ success is a testament to their determination and to the outstanding work of our faculty and staff.
The end of the academic year is traditionally a time to celebrate, and our commencement ceremony is what I look forward to the most. As much as I would like to speed up the timeline of returning to normal operations, we continue to follow Governor Northam, and Virginia Department of Health guidelines; and are unable to hold an in-person graduation as we have done in the past. It is not feasible at this time to host an alternate ceremony with the number of graduates and families we would expect.
This year, we will confer degrees through a graduation video ceremony on Friday, May 14, 2021, on our website and on YouTube. We will feature a traditional speaking agenda with national bestselling author Beth Macy providing a speech along with a student speaker. Our school deans will read our graduating students’ names and those students will be able to submit a photo and a quote for their fellow students or families to see.
For students to be included, they must first apply for graduation. To find out how, visit: https://www.virginiawestern.edu/graduation/apply.php. Those who wish to submit a photo and quote for the graduation video, should log in to their student email account from MyVWCC, then visit the form here: https://forms.gle/P7jTyp2tRckN7rdi9.
We hope that as many students as possible will participate in the creation of this video to make it special for themselves and their families.
Thank you again for all you have done during this challenging time to better yourselves and your community.
Dr. Robert H. Sandel
Virginia Western Community College