Liberty University will host an entirely virtual commencement ceremony this spring, the university announced Friday.
Graduates from the classes of 2020 and 2021 will both be recognized during separate degree ceremonies at the May 15 event, which will be streamed online. Liberty was forced to cancel its annual commencement exercises last year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“Our graduates deserve a grand celebration of their accomplishments, and our staff has been working very hard to responsibly produce in-person Commencement exercises. However, due to restrictions on gatherings imposed by Virginia’s governor, and because of the uncertainty that the limits will change, we are now planning a virtual event to make sure these milestones do not go unrecognized,” Liberty Acting President Jerry Prevo said in a statement.
“We certainly want to do everything we can to keep our Liberty family and our community healthy and abide by all local and state public health guidelines. We will do our best to make this virtual event memorable and show all our graduates how proud we are of them.”
Liberty’s commencement, which is traditionally held at Williams Stadium, regularly draws prominent figures to Lynchburg for the spring celebration. U.S. President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence have both delivered the commencement address in recent years. Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter has also spoken at the event.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had been scheduled to deliver the commencement speech last year before the event was canceled due to safety concerns. The university has not announced a speaker for the upcoming virtual ceremony.
In its announcement, the university said it is prepared to adjust commencement plans if limits on gatherings in Virginia are relaxed before the day of the ceremony. If plans change, an announcement will be made in early March.