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College graduation is typically one of the most significant memories for a student. As the implications of coronavirus have become increasingly far-reaching, this important celebration has come to an unexpected halt, ending many students’ academic careers in an anticlimactic fashion. On the morning of Friday, April 3, the Commissioner of Higher Education, Clayton Christian, disclosed that the Montana University System will not be permitted to hold large-scale, university-wide commencement ceremonies on their previously planned date of Saturday, May 9.

Although a commencement ceremony will not be held this spring for the MSU class of 2020, there will still be an opportunity to walk across the stage this winter. Each graduating senior will receive a personalized invitation to attend the MSU Winter 2020 Commencement ceremony. This event will take place on Saturday, Dec. 12 and retains a ceremony program consistent with the one scheduled for this May.

An “MSU Spring 2020 Commencement in a Box” will be delivered to every graduating student. “This wonderful treasure chest will include the MSU diploma cover and a unique Blue-and-Gold tassel exclusively designed for the members of this class,” said President Waded Cruzado in an email to MSU students. Additionally, the box will include other treasures such as balloons for the classic grand balloon drop to allow graduates to cherish this moment from the comforts of their home. Graduates will also receive their hard-earned diploma in a separate mailing.

The ability for graduating seniors to celebrate with peers has been diminished as a result of spring commencement being changed. MSU is doing its best to make the most of the situation by welcoming each student to join a Virtual MSU College Celebration. This will grant students an opportunity to connect remotely with other students, faculty members and staff. Individual colleges and departments will be assigned separate times during the second week of May to meet. To find your specific gathering time, visit www.montana.edu/commencement/colleges.html.

Despite the fact that this is the ending no one was hoping for, the University wants to ensure that the largest class in MSU’s history is properly commemorated. Crafty ideas, such as involving students by sharing photographs on social media and other memorable initiatives, are in the works. President Waded Cruzado finished her message with this statement: “I want you to know that we are immensely proud of every member of the MSU Spring Class of 2020. This profound sense of admiration extends to the faculty and staff who prepared them as well as to the to the parents, grandparents, siblings, spouses, relatives and friends who also made this accomplishment happen.”

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