UNCG commencement 2019

Graduates enter the Greensboro Coliseum for UNCG’s commencement in May.

UNC System schools won’t hold their traditional commencements in May, and it will be up to university chancellors to decide when and how to hold graduation ceremonies.

Bill Roper, interim president of the state university system, said Friday that the spring ceremonies will be delayed as COVID-19 continues to spread.

“I know and understand that this will disappoint our students and their families, who have worked toward this goal for so many years,” Roper said at a UNC Board of Governors meeting Friday. “But the health and safety of our students, faculty, and staff must be our top priority.”

Roper’s announcement came as students at all UNC System schools are moving out of campus housing and state universities are preparing to replace in-person classes with online offerings starting Monday. Campuses have closed most dining halls and many offices, and many employees are working from home. Basketball tournaments and spring sports seasons have been called off.

UNC System schools previously had banned events of more than 50 people, which means most campus gatherings have been canceled or postponed. Health experts believe the

Though traditional commencements won’t be held in May, students still will be considered graduates if they meet their academic requirements. Delays in holding the actual ceremonies “should not interfere with the actual awarding of degrees,” Roper said in a post-meeting conference call with reporters.

Greensboro’s two state universities will both postpone May commencement ceremonies. UNCG had scheduled its doctoral hooding ceremony May 7 and its main graduation ceremony the next day. N.C. A&T had planned to hold its undergraduate and graduate ceremonies May 9.

UNCG said May graduates will be included in the winter commencement, which had previously been scheduled for Dec. 11. The doctoral hooding ceremony is set for Dec. 10.

“We may not be able to celebrate with you in person in May, but know that we are proud of all you have accomplished,” UNCG Chancellor Frank Gilliam wrote in an email to graduating students Friday.

N.C. A&T said it will hold commencement later this summer but did not announce a date Friday.

“We thank you for your continued patience in this difficult period,” A&T said in a statement Friday. “We will get through these challenges together as we always do at North Carolina A&T.”

Several other UNC System schools on Friday confirmed new plans for commencement.

Appalachian State University and East Carolina University said they will hold virtual commencements in May. UNC-Charlotte said it is looking at holding commencement in either August or December.

UNC-Chapel Hill will survey its graduating students for their preferences. N.C. State University, UNC-Wilmington and Western Carolina University promised announcements soon.

Several private schools already have announced plans to postpone their May commencement exercises. Among them are Bennett College and Guilford College in Greensboro as well as both Campbell and Duke universities.

Also Friday, Roper said UNC System officials are considering plans for possible refunds of room, board and other fees as well as pass/fail grading options for spring semester classes. Those details might be announced next week.

UNC-Chapel Hill on Friday said that undergraduate students can choose the pass/fail grading option instead of traditional letter grades for their current courses.

Contact John Newsom at

336-373-7312 and follow

@JohnNewsomNR on Twitter.

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