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USW plans 21st century graduation ceremony

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University of the Southwest is planning a 21st century graduation, i.e. a graduation that is entirely virtual and therefore in keeping with the university’s goal to be and to become, the University of the Future. The virtual graduation is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. on May 16.

University provost Ryan Tipton described the planned ceremony by saying, “The only thing missing is walking across the stage. And if they really want to walk across a stage, can make some sort of platform and walk across it when their name is called wh e reve r they are.”

Although he didn’t know the exact number, Tipton said the school will have around 350 students eligible for graduation.

Tipton said the university already has the license required by ZOOM, the telecommunication company whose specialty is facilitating meetings so that groups of people can meet and if the individuals in the group have Webcams and microphones, can see and talk with each other even though they may be thousands of miles apart.

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“We’ve notified all the people who will be graduating and have invited them to participate,” Tipton said. “They can be in their living rooms, dressed in their caps and gowns, will be able to hear all the things that would go into a traditional graduation and hear their names called, along with any honors they may have earned.”

Monday afternoon, Tipton said 125 people had accepted the invitation to be part of the graduation ceremony and he is expecting more to accept.

“There are some really positive things about a virtual graduation,” Tipton said. “For one thing, it’s a first and it’s unique. For another, it really has no limits as to where people can be and participate. Students who couldn’t come to Hobbs for a physical graduation can participate from wherever they are. If this goes as well as we hope, we might even hybridize graduation in the future so that long distance students can be in the ceremony.”

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