Commencement update: Several decisions yet to be made

By Roo Rusk, Staff Writer

Of all the changes that Newman students have been faced with because of the coronavirus pandemic, one that has yet to have all its moving parts finalized is how the university will handle its online and postponed commencement celebrations for the class of 2020.

Seniors won’t be able to gather in May for graduation, which was supposed to be on May 8 at the Hartman Arena.

Instead, the university announced it will hold a virtual graduation on May 8 and will find some way to celebrate the class of 2020 in-person later.

“The Class of 2020 is invited to participate in any future Commencement ceremony,” Interim President Teresa Hall Bartels said.

But there are still other questions that upcoming graduates have, and the situation is still somewhat fluid.

Since the initial announcement regarding the decision to postpone, more information has been released on Newman’s website in FAQ format. Diplomas and honor cords will be mailed to students by the registrar’s office, and caps and gowns are now optional to graduating seniors.

Those who want to know whether they will receive a refund for already-purchased graduation attire are encouraged to contact, which is a third party vendor.

The graduation fee of $100 is still due despite the change and is payable on Newman’s website. The fees cover costs including printing of diplomas, honor cords, and mailing costs. Bartels says this year it will also factor in video production costs as well as shipment of diploma covers and other regalia.

Dean of Students Christine Schneikart-Luebbe says Newman will be doing its best to reach out for feedback from students as to how a future makeup graduation celebration will be conducted.

“We want to make sure we have multiple voices at the table once it’s safe to do so to ensure that the in-person experience that we provide meets the needs of our students,” she said.

International students like Martina Viale say they’re concerned that many of them will not be in the country for future makeup celebrations.  

“Many have left the United States and even if there will be a celebration later won’t be able to come back because of the costs,” Viale said.

Viale has proposed a possible December graduation to potentially accommodate more graduates. Bartels says any decisions have yet to be made by the Commencement Committee.

“The timing will depend upon when it will be safe for people to be together in large groups.”

No details about the make-up celebration have yet been released but students are encouraged to continue to check their emails for updates.