The University of Kansas is postponing commencement until late summer or early fall due to the uncertainty of the spread of the novel coronavirus, according to a campus-wide email from Chancellor Douglas Girod and Provost Barbara Bichelmeyer.
Commencement was originally scheduled to be held on May 17, and Girod and Bichelmeyer said in a previous email they were continuing to monitor the spread of COVID-19 before they made a concrete decision on the ceremony.
“The timing of our ceremony ... is uncertain enough that it would be imprudent to bring together thousands of friends and family members in close proximity,” the email said.
Graduating students were surveyed last week on what they would prefer if commencement wasn’t held on May 17, and many students supported the idea of an alternate date for commencement, according to the email.
The University will continue to monitor the spread of COVID-19 to determine the safest time to host a commencement ceremony. Students who meet graduation requirements will still receive certified degrees.
Classes at the University in the summer will be taught online although KU officials will continue monitoring the spread of the virus to determine if classes can be moved to in-person during the summer, the email said.
The University is also implementing a hiring freeze to address the financial impacts of the coronavirus. The freeze on hiring will not affect positions directly related to critical campus and community safety, critical research missions, critical education missions, critical business functions and critical health care missions, according to the email.
“These decisions are never easy and often raise new questions,” the email said. “We’ve worked with several campus leaders to develop guidelines that help us remain true to our mission while also being fiscally responsible.”
Employment offers already accepted by individuals will be honored; however, offers that have been made but not yet accepted will be reviewed before individuals can accept, according to the email.
Girod and Bichelmeyer said staff members are finalizing plans on potential refunds for services such as parking, housing and dining, and more information will be available as early as Friday.
There will be a University update at 4:30 p.m. on April 2 to share updates on COVID-19 and its impact on the University.