After a year of nonstop pivoting on all fronts, it seems weirdly appropriate that Carolina University will bring this unique academic year to a close-by pivoting our commencement venue from Truist Field to Salem Baptist Church because of inclement weather. All weather reports are predicting rain with periods of heavy rain, gusty winds, and thunderstorms throughout the day on Saturday, which precludes an outdoor ceremony. Knowing that weather predictions can change with the wind so to speak, the administration kept a close watch on forecasts as long as possible. We are now only 48 hours out, the Weather Channel is still predicting an over 90% chance of rain, and we are now making the call.
Everyone was excited about holding our first CU commencement at the ballpark, but we are also very grateful to Salem Baptist Church for giving us last-minute permission to use their beautiful auditorium on Saturday morning. They have been graciously providing that service for the University for 75 years, and it has always been a lovely setting. The church address is 429 S Broad St, which is right across the street from Carolina University’s main entrance.
Sadly, COVID-19 governmental and health guidelines will once again have an impact on these plans. To honor those guidelines and still allow guests to attend live, we will have two commencement services Saturday morning, and each graduate will be allowed only two guests in the auditorium. The first service will be at 9:00 AM for undergraduates only, and the second service will be at 11:00 AM for postgraduates only.
Both services will be live-streamed to several locations on the campus as an overflow option for additional guests. The first service will conclude around 10:00 AM, and all graduates along with their families and friends will immediately go to the Williams Gymnasium where refreshments will be available at no charge. This will allow time for sanitizing the auditorium and streaming locations before the next groups arrive. Undergrad graduates will have over an hour to celebrate with friends and family before needing to leave the gym to give the University time to sanitize it and prepare for the next group of graduates. The second service should finish around noon, and the postgrad graduates will then meet with their families and friends in the Williams Gymnasium to celebrate and enjoy the provided hors d’oeuvres.
Academic Leadership will be communicating with all graduates shortly concerning various details including how to obtain tickets for guests, when and where to meet before the ceremonies, etc. As always this year, social distancing and masks will be required for everyone on campus.
Thank you for your amazing spirits and positive attitudes through all of the changes, disruptions, and uncertainties of this past year, and thank you in advance for being understanding once again as we pivot one last time to bring this wild academic year to a close.