Despite two world wars and a crippling depression, Appalachian State University has never canceled a commencement ceremony during its 120-year history. This year is no exception — even when faced with the global coronavirus pandemic, Mountaineer resiliency has prevailed, making possible a historic virtual Spring 2020 Commencement.
More than 3,600 graduates — including 3,167 undergraduate and 520 graduate students — who have applied to receive their degrees in May and August will be recognized during the ceremony.
“It was unthinkable for us to consider canceling our May Commencement ceremony, especially with the available technology that is allowing faculty to continue teaching and engaging in research,” said Appalachian Chancellor Sheri Everts. “While we wish we could be together in the Holmes Convocation Center, our university’s historic first virtual commencement ceremony will be distinct and memorable.”
She continued, “We are looking forward to honoring our graduates, who have all worked incredibly hard and overcome significant obstacles to achieve this pinnacle of their academic careers. We will be with them, in their living rooms, kitchens, dining rooms and on their front porches, to celebrate their success.”
The virtual commencement, to take place Saturday, May 16, at 11 a.m., will be available on Appalachian’s commencement website, the Appalachian State University Facebook page and the university’s YouTube channel. It will also be broadcast on the university’s student-run television station, AppTV. A permanent YouTube video link will be available after the event, allowing graduates to continue sharing the momentous occasion.
The name of each candidate who has registered for Spring 2020 Commencement will be read and displayed during the event. Prior to the virtual ceremony, graduates will have received, via mail, a commencement packet that includes a diploma cover and other items to celebrate, remember and share their achievement.
Additionally, May and August graduates will have the opportunity to participate in a special commencement ceremony to be held Friday, Dec. 11.
The event’s guest speaker is Appalachian alumnus Stephen J. Dubner ’84, an award-winning author, journalist and radio and TV personality who is best known as co-author of the “Freakonomics” book series. Dubner is the 2012 recipient of the Appalachian Alumni Association’s Distinguished Alumni Award.
“We are thrilled to welcome — virtually — Stephen home to Appalachian. I am certain his perspectives, always astute and insightful, will prove meaningful for our graduates and all who tune in to this special ceremony,” Everts said.
Two members of the graduating Class of 2020 will also speak:
- Ann Marie McNeely ’16, of Morganton, who will earn her Ed.D. in educational leadership.
- Olivia Gentry, of Weaverville, who will graduate with a B.S. in public health and a minor in social work.