UTC Hosts First In-Person Graduations Since Start of Pandemic

By Samuel Still, Assistant News Editor-

Starting on Wednesday, Oct. 18 and lasting through Saturday, Oct. 21, UTC hosted their first in-person graduation ceremonies since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic earlier this year.

Students from the spring, summer and fall graduating classes of 2020 took to Chamberlain Field to receive the honor of commencement, while still following COVID-19 safety protocols as established by UTC, the Hamilton County Health Department and the CDC.

Graduates, faculty, staff and onlookers wore masks, event staff used sanitizer to wipe down surfaces and graduates and faculty were provided with socially distanced seating for the ceremonies.

In his address to graduates, UTC Chancellor, Steven Angle discussed the hardships graduates have faced in getting to commencement, but he commended them for their determination and hard work which helped get the UTC community through the challenges the pandemic caused. After the Thursday, Oct. 19 ceremony, Angle expressed his pleasure with how well the event turned out.

“[The graduation ceremony] was really nice outside Chamberlain Field.” Angle said. “We kept everybody safe, but we were able to honor our students.”

While families and other non-participants were not formally allowed to attend the ceremonies, some parents stood on the outskirts of Chamberlain Field to observe the proceedings and were not turned away.

Livestreams for each ceremony were and are available for those who did not attend to watch online at their convenience. The livestream recordings for each ceremony are available to view here.

Despite the COVID-19 protocols at the event, graduates beamed with pride as they walked across the Chamberlain Pavilion and received applause from various individuals scattered around Chamberlain Field.

For Amanda Morgan Fann, a spring 2020 graduate who returned to campus to participate in the commencement proceedings, the ceremony provided her with a proper conclusion to her time at UTC.

“This was just an opportunity to, I guess, come and say one last goodbye.” Fann said. “I didn’t even really have any of my friends here so that was kind of hard, but [UTC] handled it pretty well for what they could.”

Fann also expressed her gratitude towards her fellow graduates for their perseverance during the pandemic.

“It’s been a hard last semester, last year with COVID, but we kept strong at it.” Fann said. “And, even though things were different, we’re still on to our next chapter, and it was great living it up at UTC with [the other graduates].”

Angle expressed hope that the promising developments in COVID-19 vaccine production will allow graduation ceremonies at UTC to return to normal proceedings sooner rather than later, but he felt that the 2020 commencement proceedings were an overall success for the university and its graduates.

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