WKU says degree conferral to be held virtually in May; in-person ceremony tentatively scheduled for September

Published: Apr. 20, 2020 at 4:20 PM CDT
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Western Kentucky University announces degree conferral will take place virtually in May to allow seniors to graduate on time. President Timothy Caboni says the university took two surveys and says the majority of the 2020 class wants to come back to WKU for commencement activities in the fall. The university is tentatively planning for the weekend of September 19, 2020, which also marks Parent and Family Weekend on the hill. Graduates can also choose to participate in the December 2020 and May 2021 ceremonies. The dates are tentative and will be guided by public health officials.

You can watch President Caboni's message

The letter with updated information from President Caboni is below:

Dear Colleagues:

Today marks the midpoint between our transition to remote instruction and the end of the spring 2020 semester. So much about how we work together has changed in the past four weeks. I could not be prouder of our community’s response to arguably the largest challenge in WKU’s history.

You have demonstrated the essential best of our University; and through our actions and decisions we have displayed to the wider world our core values: Grit. Determination. Perseverance. Creativity. Compassion. Service to a greater good. All while ensuring we support each other and every member of the WKU Family.

In part because we have demonstrated our ideals, we continue to be in a strong position with our incoming first-year class and our returning students.

During the past several weeks the leadership team and budget office, in consultation with the Board of Regents, have created financial scenarios and budget contingencies for next fiscal year. This work continues through the Budget Executive Committee and the university’s budget creation process.

While we have four weeks to go before the end of the semester; we also must focus our attention on the milestone that is four months ahead of us – the scheduled start of the fall 2020 academic term.

Today I am announcing four Restart WKU Committees reporting to the COVID-19 Task Force, each with a distinct area of responsibility:

• Academics and Inquiry Committee led by Provost Cheryl Stevens

• Student Experience and Engagement Committee led by Vice President for Enrollment and Student Experience Brian Kuster

• Environment, Operations, and Physical Plant Committee led by Chief Facilities Officer Bryan Russell

• Athletics Committee led by Director of Athletics Todd Stewart

Their work will be buttressed by EVP Susan Howarth and the existing Executive Budget Council.

The health and welfare of our students, faculty and staff, in addition to that of our wider communities, will guide our planning. Our strategic plan, Climbing to Greater Heights, also must guide our decisions and continue to serve as the roadmap to our future.

Additionally, in just a few moments we will share a video with our spring 2020 graduating seniors to announce our work to begin planning a Commencement celebration during Parent and Family Weekend in September. After surveying our seniors twice, it’s clear this is what they want. Of course, this date is tentative; whatever we do will be guided by our public health officials. If the COVID-19 pandemic prohibits a celebration in September, we will regroup and alter our plans, again with our spring 2020 graduates as the guiding voice. We look forward to joining them back on our Hill to honor and celebrate their extraordinary work and achievements at WKU.

I don’t know what the fall semester will look like. Regardless of what it holds, our institution will be successful because of its people. We will harness the creativity of the WKU community to think differently about how we accomplish our mission, and we will be prepared for any eventuality.

Continue to take care of yourselves and those around you, and know that WKU will come out on the other side of this stronger than ever before.

Go Tops!


Timothy C. Caboni