HUNTINGTON, WV (WOWK) – Marshall University has canceled the commencement ceremony tentatively scheduled for Aug. 8 at the Joan C. Edwards Stadium.
The ceremony had already been delayed from May 2 due to the pandemic.
Marshall President Jerome A. Gilbert called the decision “incredibly difficult” in an email to eligible graduates and said the university will honor the Class of 2020 at the Winter Commencement tentatively planned for Saturday, Dec. 12, at the Mountain Health Arena in downtown Huntington.
He says when the university announced the August ceremony more than two months ago, it was predicated on COVID-19 infection levels remaining relatively low.
“Unfortunately, West Virginia and Cabell County have experienced a steady and significant increase in COVID-19 cases in recent weeks. We consulted with the Cabell-Huntington Health Department and our own Marshall Health chief medical officer, and they do not believe it is safe to host such a large, in-person gathering due to the increased risk of transmitting the virus, even with the measures we had planned to protect graduates and guests.
As one of the newest Sons and Daughters of Marshall, you have reached a significant milestone—one that certainly calls for celebration. I look forward to welcoming the Class of 2020 back as soon as we can safely host large events once again.”Marshall President Jerome A. Gilbert
Gilbert said the decision was made so anyone who was planning to travel to Huntington for the event had adequate advance notice.
The university has been monitoring the situation of COVID-19 in the Mountain State and alerted eligible graduates of the possibility that the ceremony could be canceled last week. Since then, the number of cases statewide has continued to climb and West Virginia Governor Jim Justice yesterday issued an executive order that closed down fairs and festivals, and prohibits indoor and outdoor concerts.
Additional information about COVID-19 and the university’s response is available on Marshall’s website.
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