More Idaho colleges call off spring commencement

(UPDATED, March 25, with information from the College of Idaho.)

Spring commencement ceremonies are off at nearly every state college and university, in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Boise State University has not yet ruled out May 9 commencement, university officials said Thursday. The University of Idaho canceled all commencement events Thursday.

Across the state, college and university officials say they are looking at other options.

  • Idaho State University says its event team “is quickly working on a plan to celebrate graduates without holding an in-person commencement ceremony on May 9. Details about the alternate celebration will be shared in the near future.” All on-campus and off-campus events have been canceled through May 15.
  • “This was not an easy decision,” Lewis-Clark State College President Cynthia Pemberton said in a letter to students and staff. “I understand that commencement is one of the most cherished and memorable moments in a student’s academic journey. Unfortunately, this spring we will have to forgo the tradition. Please know that we are currently looking at other options —  perhaps even a commencement ceremony at a later date.”
  • “We fully intend to create a memorable and special celebration that recognizes our Class of 2020 when it is safe to do so!” said the College of Western Idaho, which postponed its May 15 commencement Friday.
  • “Over the next few weeks, we will suggest other ways to honor our students’ remarkable achievements, and will find a way to celebrate them in some meaningful way,” North Idaho College President Rick MacLennan said Friday.
  • The College of Southern Idaho will invite December and May graduates to attend a future ceremony.
  • The College of Eastern Idaho says it is “exploring the option of holding commencement in August.”
  • The College of Idaho, a private school in Caldwell, is planning a doubleheader. The college will host a video event on May 23, the scheduled commencement date, and is working on an in-person event later in 2020 or in 2021.

The announcements come as the state’s higher education system is rapidly moving its spring classes to digital formats, and urging students to stay home for the rest of the semester.

The news also comes as coronavirus cases continue to rise across Idaho. The state is tracking 47 confirmed coronavirus cases. At least three cases have direct connections to college campuses — involving a student at ISU’s Meridian campus, a BYU-Idaho student and a Boise State staffer.

Kevin Richert

Kevin Richert

Senior reporter and blogger Kevin Richert specializes in education politics and education policy. He has more than 30 years of experience in Idaho journalism. He is a frequent guest on "Idaho Reports" on Idaho Public Television and "Idaho Matters" on Boise State Public Radio. Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinRichert. He can be reached at [email protected]

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