In order to ensure the safety of its campus community during the pandemic, College of the Ozarks will host its Baccalaureate/Commencement activities virtually this year.
A link to the pre-recorded commencement ceremonies will be accessible this Sunday through a digital banner at the top of the cofo.edu website. After Sunday, the link will be moved to the 2020 Graduates page. This section can be found on the homepage of the website.
The virtual format will allow for alumni, graduates, and others to participate in these activities safely and without the need to travel.
College administrators have been working closely with local health authorities and following the guidelines of the CDC to make informed decisions. Dr. Eric Bolger, vice president for academic affairs and dean of the College, said the primary factor in the decision to have a virtual graduation was student safety.
“At this time, COVID-19 is still prevalent in the local community and region,” Bolger said. “The College is doing all it can to keep the virus from campus, including putting restrictions on students and other members of the campus community. In light of this situation, the wisest course of action was to plan to have the ceremonies scheduled for Nov. 8 online.”
The focus of Commencement will be on students and the successful completion of their degrees, with a reading of graduates’ names, major(s), and academic honors, accompanied by photos of the students. Josh Hawley will give a brief statement congratulating the graduates on the success of their journey. At the end of the ceremonies, a montage of the graduates will be played, giving viewers a glimpse into campus life before COVID-19.
“We were hoping to welcome all our deserving graduates back to campus to recognize them during live commencement ceremonies, but we also knew we had to weigh the risks of bringing graduates and their families and loved ones back to campus,” Bolger said. “We are so proud of each and every one of these hardworking individuals. They gave of themselves in ways great and small while on campus with us for four years, and now we are confident they will enter their communities as citizens of Christ-like character who are well-educated, hardworking, and patriotic. We celebrate them and all of their many achievements.”
“This graduating class has had to deal with significant disappointment due to the pandemic. My prayer for them is that God will use the unique challenges they have faced to produce in them endurance, character, and hope, as Paul writes in Romans 5:3-5, and that these traits will help them to be successful as they move into their careers.”
Each year at commencement, two faculty awards — on for teaching excellence and one for professional excellence — are bestowed upon faculty members who have shown excellence in their work. Bolger will announce the award winners during the commencement ceremonies.