California Baptist University announced on Oct. 23 that the 2020 commencement ceremony will be adapted to an online format. This ceremony will celebrate graduates from the fall 2020 semester, as well as those from the spring and summer semesters after CBU postponed its ceremonies earlier this year. The virtual ceremony is scheduled to occur on Dec. 12 at 2 p.m.
Joe Adcock, assistant dean of students for administration, and Juli Mory, director of university commencements, are involved in planning the commencement ceremony.
“We were asked to look at as many options as we could, but we have to take into consideration the volume of the graduates and we have to stay within the state and local regulations with COVID-19,” Adcock said. “It just seemed like the virtual ceremony would be the best option.”
Adcock said there are more than 3,000 graduates from throughout the year, making it impossible to plan an in-person ceremony option, especially with Riverside County’s return to the most restrictive tier in the state’s COVID-19 system. The virtual ceremony will allow students to participate in the ceremony from any location, which will also allow people to celebrate with the graduates without capacity limits.
“Our goal for any ceremony is to celebrate the graduates and to allow them to celebrate their accomplishments with family and friends,” Adcock said. “The virtual ceremony is the only way we can do that with the boundaries due to the unfortunate pandemic.”
Mory said the virtual ceremony will include elements that normally occur during the commencement ceremony such as the ringing of the bell, the turning of the tassels, CBU president Ronald L. Ellis’s message and the conferring of the degrees. Although a procession cannot occur virtually, graduates will still wear their regalia. Also, Mory said the virtual ceremony will have new components that do not occur at the normal commencement ceremony.
“We think it will be worth it,” Mory said. “We wanted to make it a celebration (during which) they would feel proud to be a Lancer, even from 2,000 miles away watching this virtually.”
Throughout the planning process, Mory said they have aimed to adapt all the normal elements of a ceremony to a virtual format in a way that will make the graduates feel as though they are in a normal ceremony as much as possible.
“This has been a joint effort from many departments,” Mory said. “(We are going) to do some unique procedures that would not be part of a regular ceremony because it is virtual and there are filming aspects that, in a way, create an added aspect. What we can assure all our graduates is that this is an event they will not want to miss. It is going to be an exciting one, and we feel it will bring a culmination to all of their hard work and accomplishments and let them close out 2020 feeling celebrated.”
Connor Pacharis, spring 2020 business administration graduate, said he is not sure if he will attend the ceremony in the online format.
“I did not get the end of senior year but I always held onto hope we would all be together again for graduation, so for it to happen like this is really disappointing,” Pacharis said. “I expect the administration will do their best to make it great, but for me, it is not really worth the time seven months later to go to another CBU Zoom class. I hope (the graduates) gain a sense of closure and are reminded that we have three and a half good years of memories to remember.”
Originally, the university had hoped to eventually hold an in-person ceremony for the 2020 graduates. However, due to continued state restrictions to combat COVID-19, CBU decided to hold a virtual ceremony for the graduates. Although it is virtual, Mory said she hopes the graduates will still enjoy the celebration of their achievements.
“We want our graduates to know that we are proud of them for their resilience and that we celebrate this accomplishment with them,” Mory said. “Just like everything else in the world, we wish things were normal and that we could provide in-person ceremonies, but we believe that we have the next best option and that our graduates will be glad they participated in the ceremony.”
To participate in the ceremony, 2020 graduates can visit www.calbaptist.edu/2020. Students and graduates can visit https://calbaptist.edu/commencement/ for additional information about the commencement ceremony.