Bethel University’s 73rd Commencement Canceled Due to Indiana’s Extended Restrictions

Lissa Diaz

Due to Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb’s decision to extend the state’s Stage 4.5 reopening plan, including the restriction of in-person gatherings to less than 250 people, Bethel University regrets to announce that the rescheduled 2020 commencement ceremony will be canceled. In April, the university announced that a ceremony would be held on Aug. 16, in place of the originally scheduled May 2 ceremony.

“We are disappointed at this turn of events,” says Bethel’s Vice President for Academic Services Barb Bellefeuille, Ed.D. “We were looking forward to a ceremony with all of the pomp and circumstance to properly give our 2020 graduates the celebration they deserve. We grieve with our graduates that this turn of events will prevent them from returning to campus and celebrating with classmates, faculty, friends and family.”

Bellefeuille says that alternative plans were considered, but trying to appropriately honor all 377 graduates while also keeping to a gathering of less than 250 people in order to comply with the governor’s order was not possible in this short amount of time. University leadership also wanted to make a firm decision and announcement now in order to give graduates and families enough time to cancel travel plans and reservations, if necessary.

In May, the University held a “drive through” graduation celebration, realizing that not every graduate would be able to return to campus for the rescheduled August ceremony. At least half of the class of 2020 attended the event and received celebration boxes with their diploma, T-shirt and celebratory swag. Boxes were mailed out to all graduates who were unable to attend the in-person pickup.  

Bethel’s Alumni Office is in the beginning stages of planning a special event for the class of 2020 to celebrate together on campus, but will wait to announce any details until the state of Indiana determines it is fully open and there are no restrictions on gatherings.

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