Monday, May 4, 2020

UIS gears up for virtual graduation

The coronavirus pandemic has disoriented many norms and graduations are set to be the next annual events forced to adjust.

University of Illinois Springfield Chancellor Susan Koch’s final graduation ceremony will also be a first – a virtual commencement.

UIS’ ceremony was scheduled at the Bank of Springfield Center on May 9. It will be held on the date but at

Koch, 70, who is set to retire June 30 after nine years with UIS, took the commencement stage at the UIS Performing Arts Center with University of Illinois system President Tim Killeen Friday to record the degree conferment.

“We have this exciting video celebration that is in production and there’s a lead up to it that already has students involved,” Koch said. “I think it’s going to be absolutely just what we need since we can’t do what we want, which is having commencement with everybody together.”

Students can use #UIS20 on social media, create virtual photo frames, and short video clips and submit them at as part of the celebration.

While Koch said graduation is about the students, she acknowledged the final time she’ll take the stage. “It was going to be my last time being on the stage shaking the hand of every single student, having a moment with every student which is the highlight of my year every single year,” Koch said. She added that she feels “a little bit cheated,” like the graduating students but said the important thing is that students are still receiving their degrees and life will go on.

“That degree is going to set them on a new path and serve them well for the rest of their lives,” Koch said. “Whether we have a face to face moment together on the stage or not, they are completing their degrees and they are graduating. That’s what holds me up.” While in-person ceremonies have been canceled or postponed for dates to be determined, many colleges are holding online ceremonies and mailing diplomas.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on May 1, 2020.

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