Sep 01, 2020

College of the Ozarks to host Homecoming (Nov. 5-7), Commencement (Nov. 8) virtually

POINT LOOKOUT, MO. — In order to ensure the safety of its campus community during the pandemic, College of the Ozarks will host its Homecoming (Nov. 5-7) and Baccalaureate/Commencement (Nov. 8) activities virtually this year.

The virtual format will allow for alumni, graduates, and others to participate in these activities safely and without the need to travel. Additional details about these events will be communicated soon.

College administrators work closely with local health authorities and follow the guidelines of the CDC to inform decisions. Dr. Eric Bolger, vice president for academic affairs and dean of the College, said the primary factor in the decision to have a virtual graduation was student safety.

“At this time, COVID-19 is still prevalent in the local community and region,” Bolger said. “The College is doing all it can to keep the virus from campus, including putting restrictions on students and other members of the campus community. In light of this situation, the wisest course of action was to plan to have the ceremonies scheduled for Nov. 8 online.”

College administrators are planning what the baccalaureate and commencement services will look like. The focus of Commencement will be on students and their successful completion of their degrees, with a reading of names of graduates and their major(s) and academic honors, accompanied by photos of the students.

“We were hoping to welcome all our deserving graduates back to campus to recognize them during live commencement ceremonies, but we also knew we had to weigh the risks of bringing graduates and their families and loved ones back to campus,” Bolger said. “We are so proud of each and every one of these hardworking individuals. They gave of themselves in ways great and small while on campus with us for four years, and now we are confident they will enter their communities as citizens of Christ-like character who are well-educated, hardworking, and patriotic. We celebrate them and all of their many achievements.

“This graduating class has had to deal with significant disappointment due to the pandemic. My prayer for them is that God will use the unique challenges they have faced to produce in them endurance, character, and hope, as Paul writes in Romans 5:3-5, and that these traits will help them to be successful as they move into their careers.”

Angela Williamson, director of alumni relations, was planning live events for Homecoming 2020 while also monitoring the situation with COVID closely.

“Our Homecoming tradition will continue in an abbreviated way this fall, with virtual events offered online Nov. 5-7,” Williamson said. “Many planned to return to celebrate milestone reunions, and we will honor all reunion years ending in ‘0’ and ‘5,’ along with the other designated reunions, at Homecoming 2021. Although our on-campus festivities are cancelled, we look forward to celebrating friendships and reuniting from a distance as we celebrate Homecoming 2020 – Your Time to Shine.”