In-person May graduation canceled; alternative plans in the works

Honoring the Class of 2020

As the global coronavirus pandemic continues to upend events, Hesston College made the decision to cancel its in-person Commencement Weekend activities, including graduation ceremonies that were scheduled for May 16.

“I know that this is yet another disappointing turn of events for all of our graduation candidates who are not returning to Hesston College in the fall,” said Brent Yoder, vice president of academics, in a communication with students. “You already had to say abrupt goodbyes to your classmates and many others if you even had the chance to say goodbye at all, and now we won’t have the opportunity to celebrate your accomplishments together just as you are finishing up your remaining courses.”

Yoder said that Hesston College administrators are still working on alternative plans and hope to find in-person ways to present degrees and perform the other honors for graduates. Yet at the same time he noted the challenge presented with Hesston College students coming from across the nation and around the world and arranging for everyone to return to campus at a later date.

“We do still hope to find a way to celebrate years of hard work by the class of 2020, although we do not know exactly how or when that will happen,” said Brent Yoder, vice president of academics.

With current estimates, experts are predicting that cases of COVID-19 will peak in Kansas in mid- to late April and may continue for about four weeks before they begin to diminish.

“Even if new cases begin to diminish in May, the reality is that we will not be able to immediately return to meeting in large groups like commencement would bring,” said Yoder.

Hesston College’s COVID-19 action plan was launched on March 12, two days before the start of spring break, when the college made the decision to shift to online classes beginning when classes resumed on March 23 through at least April 12. On March 18, the plan was adjusted for online classes for the remainder of the academic year.

The college’s COVID-19 action plan, including changes as the plan has evolved, can be seen online.