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Southern Oregon University postpones commencement

Southern Oregon University has canceled its June 13 commencement ceremony and will reschedule it for the fall, Associate Provost Jody Waters said in an interview Tuesday.

“We’ve decided to postpone,” Waters said. “It just doesn’t look as though it would be safe at this point, nor do we feel like it would be fair to (put) the expectation on students and their families to travel for that weekend, given everything that’s surrounding the travel industry right now.”

Linda Schott, president of SOU, made an email announcement to the student body just past noon Monday.

“We understand how disappointing this is for the SOU community, and in particular our graduating students and their friends and families,” Schott wrote. “We do not take this decision lightly and feel it is the best option to ensure the safety and well-being of our students, faculty and staff. Our intention is to defer the ceremony until we can truly honor the accomplishments of our graduating students with the ceremony and celebration that they deserve — possibly in the fall.”

About 950 students who expect to receive degrees in the upcoming ceremony were sent a survey asking them to give input on two possible alternative dates at the beginning of the next academic year for a commencement ceremony, Waters said.

The first is during opening weekend, when campus reopens for the fall term. The ceremony would be held Sunday, Sept. 20. The second option offered would be the following Saturday, Sept. 26.

“(Students have) been very supportive,” Waters said. “I think they’re very disappointed, but also understanding. And a few are angry and a few are just really appreciative that the institution asked for their opinion.”

Schott reiterated in her message to students that postponement of the June ceremony does not mean that the class of 2020 won’t be recognized. In addition to the fall ceremony, she wrote, the 2021 commencement ceremony will salute the graduating class from the previous year.

“We wish for our students to know that we are committed to honoring the class of 2020 and regret that these extraordinary circumstances necessitate such a difficult decision,” she wrote.

Reach Mail Tribune reporter Kaylee Tornay at ktornay@rosebudmedia.com or 541-776-4497. Follow her on Twitter @ka_tornay.

file photoSouthern Oregon University has canceled its June 13 commencement ceremony and will reschedule it for the fall, Associate Provost Jody Waters said in an interview Tuesday.