COVID 19: Park University Spring 2020 Graduation canceled

Victoria Olaleye, Reporter


The graduation ceremony for spring 2020 has been canceled, and spring graduates have been invited to participate in the December graduation.

On March 17, President Greg Gunderson, Ph.D., sent an email addressing the issues surrounding the coronavirus as well as announcing that the graduation has been canceled.

“The Kansas City Area Commencement Ceremony scheduled for May 9 will be cancelled. We invite our spring graduates from Kansas City and from across the network to join us on December 12 at the main campus ceremony. Individual campus centers with ceremonies scheduled in the next eight weeks will be cancelled or rescheduled,” the president wrote.

According to Dr. Gunderson, in an email, the graduation has been canceled due to nationwide restrictions to ban gatherings to 10 or more people.

“The decision was made now so that family and friends who are traveling long distances for the ceremony, especially those of international students, could make alternate plans or cancel their travel plans,” he said.

Students who might not be able to make it to the December ceremony can livestream from their various locations.

Regarding refunds for expenses graduating students incurred, such as for a cap and gown, Provost Michelle Myers, Ed.D., said her office has been getting lots of questions from students concerning refunds, and they have provided the students with four options on how to go about that.

The options are for students who plan to walk at the commencement ceremony, students who will not walk, but still want their cap and gown shipped to them, students who won’t be walking but want a $25 refund of their graduation fees, and for students who will not be walking and are waiving their refund. The money waived will be applied to Park University’s Student Emergency Relief Fund assisting students who need help due to COVID-19 circumstances. Diploma will be mailed to students upon final transcripts being verified.

Christian Leonard, a senior majoring in mathematics, said in an email, “It comes at an unfortunate time that the event had to be canceled, but it is for the best. I am the second person in my entire family to ever graduate from college, so graduation has been on the calendar since I enrolled at Park as a freshman. It was a very big deal.”

Leonard said it was tough when he heard Park’s graduation was officially called off as he had picked up a cap and gown and paid the necessary fees. He also said his parents had sent announcements to family and friends.

“Though frustrating for many of us, I think it is important to distinguish that this is nothing but a difficult time worldwide, and that Park University is doing its best to mitigate the inconvenience of students having to shift to online classes, let alone having to coordinate everything regarding the graduation ceremony.”

Leonard said he understands that Park is having to navigate obstacles that it has never had to in the school’s history.

However, he said he believes their gradation will be special, and their year will stand out as one for the history books. He also said he will be participating in the December ceremony.

“There was no debate; my parents have done their part to get me this far, and graduation is a time for all of us to be proud,” he said. “A single day being canceled doesn’t negate the years of effort, the friendships made, and the lessons learned during my time at Park. You bet I’ll be walking in December, and I can’t wait!”

Jesse Patrick, a senior majoring in information computer science – software development, said it is an understandable decision for the graduation to be canceled. He also said he had plans to celebrate with his friends and family.

“I think the four options they gave are great for students. I just worry about the students who cannot make it back in December,” Patrick said. He said he will be walking in December as he has already made the payments for the graduation.

Katherine Payne, a senior majoring in graphic design, said she is disappointed, but she understands that there are lot of people struggling as a result of current events.

“This is a completely new situation for everyone, and I feel as if everyone is making the best of it,” she said. Payne said she already paid for the graduation as well as her cap and gown and is looking forward to attending the December graduation ceremony.