Hope College has rescheduled its postponed graduation activities for the Class of 2020 from August to the college’s alternate plan of next May.
Details regarding the events, including the specific date, have not yet been determined and will be announced at a later time.
Hope’s Baccalaureate and Commencement ceremonies were originally going to be held on Sunday, May 3, but because of the global COVID-19 pandemic were initially rescheduled to the weekend of Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 1-2, contingent on conditions at the time, with May 2021 as a back-up.
Given the continued need for social distancing, Hope has opted for next spring. Hope College President Matthew A. Scogin announced the decision in a message to the members of the class on Monday, June 15.
“If Hope were to host an in-person celebration in August, even outdoors, the constraints would significantly limit participation of friends and family and ultimately not provide you with a good commencement experience,” he said. “In addition, given that restrictions are more stringent for indoor gatherings, in the event of rain, it would be impossible to hold the ceremony in DeVos Fieldhouse.”
“This is extremely disappointing for all of us. I was truly looking forward to celebrating with you in person this summer,” Scogin said. “We promise to make the commencement next May a special and memorable weekend. It will be one year from your official graduation, making it both a commencement and a one-year reunion.”
Each year, the college’s Commencement takes place outside at Ray and Sue Smith Stadium if weather permits, and inside at the Richard and Helen DeVos Fieldhouse if not. The Baccalaureate services are held in Dimnent Memorial Chapel.
Although the May 3 ceremonies were postponed, the original date still included an informal virtual event to recognize the accomplishments of the graduates. Presented via the college’s Facebook account that afternoon, “Keeping Hope: Celebrating the Class of 2020” featured a mix of live and pre-recorded congratulations, encouragement and meditations from more than a dozen members of the faculty and staff. The venue also enabled the audience to post well-wishes and reflections along the way. More than 1,000 people tuned in, with more than 360 peak live viewers.
Other organizations in the area have also canceled large-scale events occurring in the early-August time frame. Earlier in the month, the Ottawa County Fair Association Board of Directors announced the cancelation of this year’s fair, which had been scheduled to run July 27-Aug. 2.