March 31: President Quillen: Commencement

Message sent to the Class of 2020 after the difficult decision was made to postpone our Commencement celebration:

I’ve been thinking about you all for these past two weeks, wondering what words I could share that could be helpful at this impossibly difficult time.  Many of the events and moments you had every right to expect now cannot happen as planned. You are distant from one another and not able to share the joys of spring on this beautiful campus. I hope you make room for sadness and grief.  It’s important to let yourself feel this.

The United States is now abiding by physical distancing guidelines through April 30th. We in North Carolina are now under a “stay at home” order through most of April, and evolving analyses indicate that physical distancing will remain important at least through mid-May. Given this, we cannot plan to hold Commencement as we normally would at the normal time. We would risk having to change course at the last minute, leaving many of you and your families with the additional challenges that this might create.  We’ll post this announcement for the whole college community later today.

If I could make things different, believe me I would. I hate not having you all here now and I hate that your year was cut so abruptly short. But, as I know you all have learned, there’s a lot about the world that we can’t control and there’s a lot about the future we don’t know. This situation really makes that very clear.

And yet, we still have agency. There is a lot we can do.  Now, we can stay in touch with one another, even though we’re geographically separated. We can support one another. We can use our ability to learn to engage with the subjects we love and to learn more about the situation we now face. We can mark some milestones virtually, as I know is happening with some thesis presentations and other events, until we can celebrate in person together.

And we can begin to think about how, once we’re through this, we will celebrate your achievements and aspirations in memorable, fun ways that bring you all back together here in this special place.  

We want your help in planning that Commencement celebration. We want it to be meaningful for you, and I want you to feel honored and loved as the class of 2020 (or 2019.75). To that end, my colleague Sarah Phillips is leading a Commencement planning group, and she will work with representatives from your class to come up with a plan.

From earlier conversations,  I know that many of you want to come back to campus for an in-person ceremony. If any of you have additional suggestions, please email them to 2020commencement@davidson.edu — I’m excited to see your ideas.

Thank you for all that you have done and are doing for Davidson. Please reach out to me at any time for any reason.

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March 30: President Quillen: Home Is Us

Here are greetings from a few folks you might recognize and who miss you and the community we’ve created here. If you’ve left campus or if you’re on campus, we cannot gather and see each other as we normally do—in class, the Union, Nummit, or just walking.  No matter where you are, the warmth and love in this message are meant for you. 

Our inventive classmates and colleagues keep finding ways like this for us to erase the distance. Thank you all for your commitment to each other and to this special place.

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