Fall 2019 Commencement at Ohio University
Fall 2019 Commencement at Ohio University [Courtesy Ohio University]

Ohio University Postpones Spring Commencement and All Regional Campus Graduation Activities

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ATHENS, Ohio (WOUB) — Ohio University has decided to postpone Spring 2020 Commencement and all graduation activities on all regional campuses.

According to an email OU President Duane Nellis sent Wednesday morning, the university is making the decision “in alignment with recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).” The recommendations updated Monday said all events or gatherings with 10 or more people should be canceled or held virtually.

Nellis says the events will be rescheduled “when it is safe for the university community to come together.”

This is the first time the university has postponed commencement ceremonies since 1970, when events were cancelled due to riots over the Kent State shooting.

Other colleges and universities around the state made the move to postpone commencement Tuesday, including Ohio State University, Youngstown State and Capital University.

As of Wednesday, March 18 at 9:20 a.m., there were no confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Ohio University’s campus or in Athens County.

The Ohio Department of Health confirmed 67 cases statewide at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, March 17.

The Ohio Department of Health makes the following recommendations to protect yourself from illness:

  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds; dry hands with a clean towel or air dry hands.
  • Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer when soap and water are unavailable.
  • Cover your mouth with a tissue or sleeve when sneezing or coughing. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Avoid contact with people who are sick.

Ohio’s coronavirus call center is open to answer questions from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. The hotline number is 1-833-4-ASK-ODH or 1-833-427-5634.

Read the full text of President Nellis’ email below:

Dear Ohio University Community:

As you know, Ohio University has been monitoring the coronavirus outbreak (COVID-19) daily to provide regular updates to our OHIO community. I am writing, today, to notify you of our decision to postpone our Spring 2020 Commencement ceremonies, planned for May 1-2 and graduation recognition activities on all regional campuses. When it is safe for our University community to come together again, we will immediately begin planning a postponed Commencement celebration and will notify our graduates and our entire community as plans are developed.

The decision to postpone was made in the best interest of our graduating students and our entire University community and in alignment with recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that no gatherings with 50 people or more take place for the next eight weeks to slow the spread of this disease. This decision is supported by and reflects the input of Student Senate President Lydia Ramlo, Student Trustees Austin McClain and Justin Kelley, as well as thousands of students who provided their perspectives as I moved toward this announcement.

Commencement is a significant occasion for our graduating Bobcats and their families, and I know we all feel a great sense of disappointment that we will not be able to celebrate their success together on May 2. However, I greatly look forward to the day when we come back together again for what I expect will be an incredibly memorable and moving Commencement event as we celebrate not only your success at OHIO but also our collective journey through this unprecedented time.

In addition, we are actively exploring ways to continue to connect with you and celebrate you as we wrap up this semester, and we will share more details soon.

Thank you for your understanding and patience as we continue to evaluate and respond to this unprecedented situation. Please visit for updates and information about OHIO’s response to the coronavirus epidemic. Take care and stay safe, Bobcats.

Kind regards,

M. Duane Nellis,