UNCW spring graduation likely not happening in May

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UNCW (Photo: Sydney Bouchelle/WWAY)

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — UNCW leaders announced Thursday that spring commencement likely will not happen in May as planned.

At this point, it is not clear if graduation will be canceled or just postponed.

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WWAY’s Hannah Patrick spoke to UNCW leaders this morning during an online news conference to get an update on classes, residence halls and graduation.

Chancellor Jose Sartarelli told us commencement is very important. He said while it may not happen in May as scheduled, it would happen at some point.

“We have not yet made the decision as to when we’re going to have graduation,” Sartarelli said. “I can tell you that we are going to have graduation. It may most likely it’s not going to be in the first week of May, because of the circumstances, but I can tell you that between May, June, July, August, that we will find a date that is going to be appropriate for us to have graduation.”

Shortly after the press conference, the university sent out this message about graduation:

“We wanted to answer one of your most pressing questions in real time, as information becomes available to us.

Our update is a heartbreaking one that we had hoped to avoid. We believe commencement ceremonies will most likely not be able to occur on their scheduled dates in early May. We have been working toward avoiding this outcome, but it may now be inevitable. We know this is devastating news for our spring graduates and their families. We will share additional information as soon as it is available; we understand the need for a confirmed decision, in terms of planning, travel, accommodations, etc.

We so deeply regret the impact this situation is having on our students and their families, and on our employees and their families. We share in your confusion and distress, and we will offer whatever support we can as we continue to navigate the circumstances. Thank you for your understanding.

* We do not have any information re. alternate plans, dates, etc. Please bear with us as we continue to formulate a plan. *”

The university announced earlier this week that students would have to leave the dorms unless they do not have another option or need help. UNCW staff said as of this morning, 102 students have applied to stay on campus. Nineteen of those requests are international students. We asked if students would get reimbursed for meal plans and campus housing. The Chancellor said they have not gotten any direction from the system office.

“We have not yet spent the time to think about whether we’re going to be able to refund or not at this stage,” Sartarelli said. “There is great sensitivity on the part of the system as well as the university to that issue in particular, but we are listening to the concerns and we are very sensitive to it.”

Earlier this month, spring break was extended for UNCW students. On Mar. 23, all classes will begin again online.

UNCW staff told us the basketball team is still quarantined after the CAA tournament, but they are all doing well. Their quarantine ends on Saturday.