One of the rites of spring is graduation.

This year, with the coronavirus pandemic forcing all instruction online at the University of Missouri, emptying dorms and shutting down research, large gatherings for commencement exercises starting May 15 are out of the question.

Mun Choi, system president and interim MU chancellor, said Thursday during a Board of Curators committee meeting that the peak of the pandemic in Missouri is expected sometime around May 18.

"We’ll still be in the thick of things" on the original commencement dates, Choi said.

The ceremonies have been postponed at all four campuses in the University of Missouri system. Virtual celebrations will replace the in-person ceremonies.

The virtual ceremonies for MU graduates will happen sometime in May, the university announced, with an in-person ceremony sometime in the future.

Columbia College had previously announced the cancellation of its commencement ceremony, which is rescheduled for December.

Choi said he looks forward to an in-person celebration of graduates, he said.

Avery Welker, student representative to the Board of Curators, posed the question about commencement during the committee meeting.

"We know this news is disappointing to our graduates and to all who helped them reach this important milestone," Choi and Provost Latha Ramchand, wrote in a message sent by email to MU faculty, staff and students.

Commencement conveys the pride of university officials and confidence in the graduates, they wrote.

"There is no substitute for the day many of you anticipated, but we are eager to share how our community will still mark this special occasion and congratulate the class of 2020," the message reads.


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