May Commencement currently rescheduled for October

The Johnson University Class of 2020 has spoken. One hundred thirty-two graduating students replied to our survey, representing in statistically reliable numbers students from all campuses (Florida, Tennessee, and online) and all levels (undergraduate, master’s and doctoral). And the results were clear:

  1. Everyone is sad that May graduation had to be canceled, but everyone wants to prioritize public health.
  2. Few are excited about an online graduation.
  3. Most Florida and Tennessee undergraduates want the chance to gather as a class on their home campuses.
  4. Most graduate students and online undergraduate students want flexibility, depending on their circumstances.
  5. Graduates respect that their classmates may have a different preference.

We therefore plan the following:

  1. Special commencement ceremonies for May graduates will be held at the Knoxville Convention Center and the Florida campus (Chapman Center). Subject to public health conditions, we will plan for the dates to be Saturday, October 17 (Tennessee), and Saturday, October 24 (Florida).
  2. Any May 2020 graduate for whom the October dates are not workable will have the following options (all dates are subject to revision based on public health conditions):
    1. The August 15, 2020 commencement on the Tennessee campus
    2. The December 19, 2020 commencement on the Tennessee campus
    3. The May 7, 2021 commencement on the Florida campus
    4. The May 8, 2021 commencement on the Tennessee campus
    5. Graduating in absentia (names will be read at the October commencement)
  3. In addition, we are announcing a modification of the university’s prior policy on the decoration of graduates’ mortar boards (caps). Graduates may decorate their mortar boards within the bounds of propriety, avoiding materials that tend to fall off and leave a mess (glitter is an example). We hope that this element of individual, creative celebration provides a little lift after the disappointment of the ceremony’s delay.

Students who applied for graduation in May 2020 should look for an email, coming soon, that will ask them to indicate whether they plan to attend the rescheduled graduation in October on their home campus or to choose one of the alternatives.

Many graduates have asked whether they can be refunded the cost of their graduation regalia (cap and gown) if they choose to graduate in absentia. It is the University’s normal policy not to offer such a refund so as not to incentivize absence from the ceremony. However, given this year’s unusual circumstances, we will refund the cost of regalia for any student who graduates in absentia who had applied to graduate in May 2020 and who requests a refund. Students graduating in absentia who want to have their regalia may still do so as always.