Spring 2020 and Fall 2020 students will celebrate together at 2020 Commencement in December


On Tuesday, the Office of the President sent out an email announcing a new plan for honoring 2020 graduates at Azusa Pacific. Renamed 2020 Commencement, APU will expand the commencement ceremony in December 2020 to include all students graduating in 2020. 

This will be done by adding two additional days to the December 2020 commencement. Distinct ceremonies are planned for students originally scheduled to walk in May and for students walking in December. 

The ceremony honoring May 2020 graduates will be held on Saturday, Dec. 12, and the graduate ceremonies by school/college and the Nurse Pinning ceremonies will be held on Friday, Dec. 18. The December 2020 undergraduate ceremony and the graduation ceremony by school/college will both be held on Saturday, Dec. 19.

The Office of the President said they chose December after careful review of the latest local and statewide COVID-19 public health guidelines and directives.

The APU Student Government Association (SGA) also sent out an email survey to the 2020 graduating seniors to gather student ideas and preferences for the graduation ceremony. Chief of Staff Andrew Barton and Interim Provost Rushkan Fernando also met with 2019-20 SGA President Tayo Agbalaya and Current SGA Vice-President/President Elect Camila Gaona Galvan to discuss the survey ideas.

“We talked through the ideas the senior class proposed in the senior class survey we sent out as an SGA team and it was cool to see how dedicated they were to making sure those who were supposed to graduate in May were honored in some fashion,” Agbalaya said.

Agbalaya said he is encouraged by the decision.

“As a senior, it means a lot to me knowing that the leaders of APU care enough to make sure that the graduating members of the APU community are honored for the hard work they’ve put in over their past years of coursework. Although it’s been a challenging few months for all of us, today upon hearing the news that commencement is being rescheduled for December, it’s an especially great day to be a Coug.”

Senior liberal studies major Victoria Slosted said she was glad to see that APU chose to separate the December 2020 graduates from the May 2020 graduates by having two distinct celebrations.

“I felt as a May 2020 graduate, that combining both graduates could have left either [group] with thoughts of ‘this is not my commencement,'” Slosted said. “I believe it will be more meaningful for both to have all of the May 2020 graduates together and all of the December 2020 graduates together.”

These changes to commencement come after APU announced in mid-March that it would shut down all campuses, shut down student housing, move all classes online, and suspend May commencement and summer programs due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Since then, APU Medical Director Todd Emerson, D.O., confirmed that an APU student living off-campus had tested positive for COVID-19, shortly after the city of Azusa confirmed its first case of the virus. As of April 20, there are 23 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the city of Azusa.

“APU will continue to monitor and respond to California’s guidelines and directives through the fall to assess, and modify if necessary, final event planning details,” the Office of the President said in the email. “The ceremonies will be live-streamed for those unable to attend.”

The Office of the Provost stated they will provide more details about ceremony timing and registration in the months to come. ZU News will provide updates as they occur.