261 graduates cross stage at Averett

Chatham resident Kimberly Matherly, right, shakes hands with Averett University President Dr. Tiffany Franks, left, during the university’s graduation ceremony on Saturday, May 7. [2016]

Averett University has reimagined its upcoming Winter 2020 Commencement to adhere to all statewide health and safety recommendations.

Due to the governor of Virginia’s recent order limiting all indoor and outdoor gatherings to no more than 25 people, the university will not be able to hold Commencement in the way they had been planning.

However, personnel say they are committed to reinventing this experience and making the commencement a milestone as meaningful and memorable as possible. 

Averett has developed a two-pronged approach that includes an in-person opportunity and a virtual component.

First, they will livestream a virtual commencement ceremony Friday, Dec. 11, at 7 p.m. at averettcougars.com. Viewers will virtually enjoy the many traditions of graduation, complete with the bagpipe introduction, pomp and circumstance, the National Anthem, commencement address, award presentations, the reading of the graduates along with honors, the singing of the Alma Mater and the university's blessing upon the graduates. 

Then, Saturday, Dec. 12, Averett is excited to invite graduates to come to the Averett University E. Stuart James North Campus at 707 Mount Cross Rd. for an individualized, in-person commencement experience with up to four guests in attendance.

Graduates will walk across the formal graduation stage indoors with their guests cheering them on as their names are read aloud by Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Timothy Fulop. They will be presented their diploma and pose for a socially distanced graduation photo with Averett President Dr. Tiffany Franks.

Alumni Director Dan Hayes will present graduates with their keepsake alumni pin, symbolizing their official entry into Averett’s alumni family.

This event will also be live-streamed so that the special moment of walking across the commencement stage will be captured and shared at large.

Graduates wanting to participate in Saturday’s in-person event can sign up for a 10 a.m., 11:15 a.m. or 1 p.m. time slot. The deadline to request a time slot is Dec. 1.

Averett can accommodate up to 40 graduates and their guests during each of the timeframes with a very precise process of ushering participants through. They will hold additional times for graduates to participate should there be enough interest. 

Graduates will receive very detailed instructions for the in-person process. Graduates must be registered in advance, as well as register the names of their guests (up to four).

Upon arrival Dec. 12, cars will follow a designated route throughout the parking lots on North Campus and graduates and their registered guests will exit their vehicles only at their time to enter the Grant Center and cross the commencement stage.

There will also be additional opportunities for outdoor photos at distanced photo stations.

All health and safety protocols will be followed at all times: masking, social distancing and a maximum of 25 people in a single area indoors or outdoors, and doors will be opened throughout the Grant Center to allow for cross-ventilation.

“While my heart aches for our graduates and the many obstacles they’ve faced this year, I’m thrilled they get this customized celebration with their loved ones and will still have their special moment to walk across the graduation stage,” said Averett President Dr. Tiffany M. Franks. “I’m proud that we were able to transform a challenging situation into this personalized experience that only Averett can do.”

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