West Liberty University announces a virtual commencement ceremony for all fall 2020 graduates

Annalise Murphy, Editor-in-Chief

WLU Fall 2020 Virtual Graduation Commencement

West Liberty University has decided to make the 2020 fall commencement ceremony completely virtual in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19, which is similar to what the University did for the Spring of 2020 graduates. As of today, 133 students are expected to complete their degree requirements, and nearly 35 summer graduates will be taking part in the virtual fall ceremony.
WLU Director of Media Relations provided a comment on behalf of President Greiner. “We regret that once again our Commencement Ceremony will have to be virtual due to the pandemic, but it is the best choice for our students and their families. I congratulate all seniors who have persevered through these unusual times and earned their degrees despite COVID-19 and I wish them the very best in their future,” said President Greiner.
Scott Cook, Vice President of Student Services and Registrar, sent an email out to all graduating seniors on Oct. 19 saying, “holding an in-person event on campus this fall was not possible.” He also stated that students graduating this December will be invited back to campus for the Spring 2021 commencement ceremony, if the university is able to hold an in-person ceremony when Spring arrives. Graduating students should expect an email containing a link to view the ceremony on TopperStation in the near future.
The date for graduation has changed from the date originally set for the in-person ceremony on Nov. 21 and will now take place virtually through TopperStation and WLU social media outlets on Saturday, Dec. 5, 2020 at 11 a.m.
Since the Fall 2020 graduation ceremony is not being held on campus, the fee has been reduced and should have been added to graduating seniors accounts sometime within the last few days of October.
According to WLU Director of Media Relations, Topper Station’s executive director, Theresa Gretchen, is collecting photos of all graduating seniors through email to create a visual image of all graduates. Cook is asking students to submit their photos to Gretchen by email at [email protected] in their cap and gowns no later than Nov. 20 if they wish to be included in the virtual ceremony.
“Greiner will preside at the virtual ceremony as one of his last official duties of his unique presidency which has included two unexpected delays to his planned retirement date due to COVID-19. He expects to retire at the end of the fall semester,” said WLU Director of Media Relations. Cook shared information regarding graduation stating WLU Provost Brian Crawford and the academic deans will recognize the students graduating with special honors; in addition, Ms. Samantha Pearl of Wheeling W. Va., will be the student speaker. Pearl is graduating from the College of Liberal Arts with a major in Interdisciplinary Studies.
Cook said, “The graduating student with the highest-grade point average in each respective college is selected as the college banner carrier.” The following students will be banner carriers: Katherine V. Stamper for College of Arts & Communications, Abbey M. Cusick for College of Sciences, Clay M. McDonald for West College of Business, Larrin Shriver for College of Educational & Human Performance, Katrina M. Donzella for College of Liberal Arts, and Donna M. Schuler for School of Professional Studies.
After final grades and requirements are reviewed and recorded, graduates can expect to receive their diplomas by to their permanent address by mail sometime in January 2021.
Many students have mixed emotions and feelings about graduation being done virtually rather than in person.
Senior Social Work student, Madisson Perdue is not in favor of graduation being virtual and thinks that enough information is known about COVID-19 to safely allow for an in-person ceremony. She stated most people know the symptoms of the infectious disease and feels there are procedures the university could put in place to accommodate the COVID-19 guidelines.
“Virtual graduation is disrespectful and dishonorable to all members involved, no matter how it’s conducted. For some graduating this semester, they are the first within their families to ever receive a college degree. Some of these students are breaking the detrimental cycle of poverty and becoming the best person they can,” said Perdue.
On the contrary, some students are in agreement with the university’s decision to host the graduation ceremony virtually.

Jasmyn King is also a Social Work student, but she differs in opinion with Perdue. King feels that the university is doing what is best for not only the student’s safety, but also what is best for the safety of the entire West Liberty community.

“Due to the public mandates and safety concerns, I agree with virtual graduations. While it would be nice to walk across the stage and receive my diploma, my future and the future of our country depends on more than receiving acknowledgment for my achievements. If we follow the guidelines as we should, then we can look forward to celebrating in the future. Although we do not get to walk, we have all come so far and I’m extremely proud of the class of 2020/2021,” shared King.

For more information regarding graduation, please email Scott Cook at [email protected] or Maureen Zambito at [email protected].