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    Celebrate 2020 Lee University graduates with our Class of 2020 Graduation Celebration Banners.
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    07-16-2020 (Lee University Cancels Commencement Ceremonies)

    Lee University Cancels Commencement Ceremonies

    Lee President Dr. Paul Conn announced the cancellation of commencement ceremonies scheduled for August 1, in an email and video message to graduates on Wednesday. Seven hundred sixty graduates were planning to march and receive degrees in the ceremonies.

    “As painful as it is to all to reach this decision, I believe for us to bring such big crowds together on campus is just too risky,” said Conn in Wednesday’s video. “My first responsibility is to keep you and your families safe and well. We looked at dozens of scenarios, in many different combinations, with masks and distancing in all of them, but we just couldn’t find a way to make it work safely.”

    Conn said the decision to cancel was made following discussions with the officers of Lee’s Board of Directors, members of the university Cabinet, and faculty leaders. He explained that the recent surge of COVID cases and hospitalizations in the Cleveland and Chattanooga area forced the change in plans. “UT-Chattanooga had rescheduled its commencement for the same weekend as ours,” Conn said, “and after they announced their cancellation last week, I talked with Steve Angle (UTC Chancellor), and he was very helpful in discussing the pros and cons. All of us in higher education are in this crisis together, and it’s valuable to consult with one another.”

    Conn urged Lee’s graduating students to “take COVID seriously; this is not just a disease for older people.” He observed that some younger people have been considered to be careless about wearing masks, distancing, and other ways of staying virus-free, and cautioned Lee students to “do those things that will keep you and your families and friends safe and healthy.”

    The Lee president promised the graduates the university would “make it up” to them in any way possible. This included an open invitation to come back as “VIP marchers” in future commencements throughout 2020 and 2021. He also said the Class of 2020 will be invited back to campus for “the mother of all reunion parties,” once it can be done safely.

    Conn told the graduates a customized box with their regalia, diploma, the printed program for the event, and other items was being shipped to each of them. A Lee tradition is the presentation to every graduate of a Bible signed by Conn, and that will also be included.

    He encouraged students to stay optimistic. “I know the COVID-19 pandemic has taken a lot from you, but it cannot take away your memories, your friendships, your experiences, your growth, and everything you have learned in your years here at Lee.”

    Conn had been scheduled to give the commencement address this year himself, since this would have been the last commencement of his 34-year presidency. He will become the university’s Chancellor on August 1, and Dr. Mark Walker will succeed him as president. The university has announced its plans to reopen with a full slate of in-person classes this fall semester, using a “hybrid” format which will include remote options when necessary.

    07-14-2020 (Graduation Cancelled)

    Hello, my friends in the Class of 2020 --

    Never in my life has there been an email more painful for me to write than this one.

    It is my sad responsibility to tell you that our Commencement exercises, scheduled for the weekend of August 1, must be cancelled. I just don't believe we can find a way to keep you and your families safe and healthy in the big crowds that would come to Cleveland for this event. 

    I have reached this conclusion in consultation with the Chairman of the Board of Directors (he came to Cleveland yesterday to help me with this decision), and with the advice of the Cabinet (our eight vice presidents) and other faculty leaders. We have wrestled with this for days, with tears, literally, at times.

    The problem which we have been unable to solve is how to bring a big crowd together safely during this COVID-19 summer. With 760 graduates, 200+ faculty, and hundreds of parents and family members, the kind of large celebratory event that makes commencement so special is just too risky for everyone’s health. We have considered dozens of scenarios, all with masks and spacing, in multiple events and combinations, but in the end, we feel there are just too many variables we can’t control. We are confident we have created a plan for the fall semester which will allow us to reopen safely, but we can do that without the challenge of big crowds, which seem so problematic for protecting everyone’s health.

    Bottom line: as much as I hate it, I believe it would be irresponsible to bring everyone together for commencement at this time.

    On a personal note, may I say that I am heartbroken to disappoint you in this way. I realize you have worked so hard to earn your degree, and you have paid a big price for this pandemic already, so to add this to your list of losses hurts me deeply. It’s sad to me for another, quite selfish, reason: as you know, August 1 will be my last day as president. For months, I have imagined spending that day with all of you, singing and celebrating, shaking your hand and congratulating you, and doing all those things we have enjoyed together at Lee. 

    So, I realize this announcement brings a sense of loss for you, and I am right there with you.

    Will you please allow me to explain a bit more how we reached this decision, and talk about some of our ideas for making it up to you, however we can? I will send you another email tomorrow, with a video link embedded, and I would really appreciate your taking the time to listen to what I have to say. That’s a little better way to communicate than just an email.

    Thanks for understanding, guys! This pandemic will be over someday, and whenever that time comes, we will get together, the Class of 2020, and that will be so sweet!

    I love you all,

    Paul Conn

    04-07-2020 (Lee University Postpones May Commencement)

    Lee University will combine its spring commencement ceremonies with the previously scheduled summer commencement, taking place August 1 on Lee’s campus. This announcement was made Monday, April 6, during two different meetings on Zoom, one with students and one with staff and faculty.

    “I regret that we have to wait that long to celebrate our graduating seniors, but in light of current circumstances and in the interest of everyone’s health and safety, we must wait until the summer,” said Conn. “But I promise you, we will get to celebrate with all the bells and whistles, Lord willing.”

    Conn had encouraged all graduating seniors to let him know directly if they would prefer a virtual graduation or a postponement if the May date could not happen, and with few exceptions, most all expressed the desire to postpone so they could cross the stage on site.

    Other announcements were made on Monday concerning refunds, closures, and cross-cultural trips.

    Conn confirmed that all students who had paid for housing and/or meal plans for the spring semester would receive partial refunds. The university plans to issue these refunds by mid-April, though students may leave the funds in their accounts, should they wish to apply the credit to their next semester.

    Conn stated to the faculty/staff that approximately 90 percent of Lee employees are staying at home, working remotely in most cases. “Colleges and universities are considered an ‘essential service’ by the state and the CDC,” he said. “So we need to keep our work going as well as we can while staying home and observing ‘social distancing’ guidelines.”

    The dining hall, which had been operating on a limited take-out service only, completely closed Monday until further notice.

    It was also announced that all cross-cultural trips scheduled to happen in May or June have been postponed or cancelled.

    Despite all of the schedule changes and disruptions to routine, Conn reminds students to “stay optimistic, stay healthy, and stay in touch.”

    “No matter what, whether we do it from our homes or on the web, we are still here for you, and we will keep doing what we do, caring for you and providing an opportunity for you to learn and grow,” Conn said.

    Lee University’s social media channels and website remain the best source of information about scheduling, updates, and other announcements.

    04-02-2020 (Message from Dr. Debbie Murray)

    May 2020 Bachelor’s and Master’s Candidates and Families:

    Each year, we look forward to celebrating the outstanding accomplishments of our graduating students at our Commencement ceremonies. With the pandemic still active and unpredictable, we have delayed making a decision regarding the May Commencement until April 8 or 9, one month out from the Commencement date. Please look for a live-stream message from President Conn.

    As previously announced by President Conn, we will hold an in-person commencement ceremony for the May Class of 2020. The date of that ceremony is to be determined. Regardless of when the ceremony is, it is important for you to know that the degrees you earn will be conferred in May, at which time you will be a Lee University graduate (as long as all academic requirements have been met).

    Thank you for your flexibility, openness, and resiliency as we continue to adapt to these changes.

    Debbie Murray, Ed.D.
    Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs

    Congratulations! Your graduation from Lee University represents the culmination of years of hard work. To make the graduation process a smooth one, students may access detailed Graduation information via Portico. Guest information is provided below.

    Undergraduate Commencement Schedule
    Winter 2020 Gradutes Summer 2021 Graduates
    Commissioning Ceremony
    Friday, December 11, 2020
    6:30 PM
    Conn Center
    Commissioning Ceremony
    Friday, July 30, 2021 
    6:30 PM
    Conn Center  
    Commencement Ceremony
    Saturday, December 12, 2020
    10:30 AM
    Conn Center
    Commencement Ceremony
    Saturday, July 31, 2021
    10:30 AM
    Conn Center 
    Spring 2021 Graduates  
    Commissioning Ceremony
    Friday, May 7, 2021
    6:30 PM
    South Campus Quad Lawn*  
     
    Commencement Ceremony
    Saturday, May 8, 2021
    9:30 AM
    South Campus Quad Lawn*  
     
    * If inclement weather, ceremonies will move to the Paul Dana Walker Arena.
    Master’s and Ed.S. Commencement Schedule
    Winter 2020 Graduates Summer 2021 Graduates
    Hooding Ceremony
    Friday, December 11, 2020
    4:30 PM
    Stone Chapel
    Hooding Ceremony
    Friday, July 30, 2021 
    4:30 PM
    Stone Chapel  
    Commissioning Ceremony
    Friday, December 11, 2020
    6:30 PM
    Conn Center
    Commissioning Ceremony
    Friday, July 30, 2021 
    6:30 PM
    Conn Center 
    Commencement Ceremony
    Saturday, December 12, 2020
    10:30 AM
    Conn Center
    Commencement Ceremony
    Saturday, July 31, 2021
    10:30 AM
    Conn Center  
    Spring 2021 Graduates  
    Hooding Ceremony
    Friday, May 7, 2021
    4:30 PM
    Stone Chapel    
     
    Commissioning Ceremony
    Friday, May 7, 2021
    6:30 PM
    South Campus Quad Lawn*  
     
    Commencement Ceremony
    Saturday, May 8, 2021 
    9:30 AM 
    South Campus Quad Lawn*  
     
    * If inclement weather, ceremonies will move to the Paul Dana Walker Arena.
    Once You Arrive to Campus

    Upon arrival to campus, there will be signs and campus security officers directing guests to parking.

    After parking, guests will be directed to the venue unless they have young children they would like to drop off at childcare. Doors open one and a half hours before the ceremony. We ask that guests arrive with enough time to be seated approximately fifteen minutes before the ceremony start time. Please note that seating is first come, first served.

    Ticket Information

    Both July and December Commissioning and Commencement Ceremonies are ticketed services. Weather permitting, the May Commissioning and Commencement services are held outside and do not require tickets. However if rain is likely, these events are held indoors and are ticketed. If it is determined to move any ceremony inside, that information will be prominently displayed on this page.

    Potential graduates will receive an email approximately four weeks before the services with the number of tickets they will receive. In all cases of ticketed services, there will be non-ticketed seating available in a secondary venue with live streaming of the services.

    The number of tickets each graduate receives is determined after the Official Candidate List is released. Students will receive an email from the Graduation Office with all ticket information approximately four weeks prior to the ceremony. At that time the student can fill out the Extra Ticket Request Form to be placed on the waiting list to request additional tickets. The number of extra tickets available is unknown until very close to the event. Therefore all tickets, including extra tickets, will not be given to the students until the end of graduation rehearsal.

    The Graduation Office will contact Graduates via email about their guest’s accommodations for seating and parking for both the Commissioning and Commencement Services approximately one (1) month prior to the events.

    Assistance for Persons with Disabilities

    The following resources are available for all guests with disabilities:

    • Handicapped Parking:
      • Spring Graduation: Communication Arts Building Parking lots
      • Summer and Winter Graduation: Library Parking Lot
       
    • Accessible Seating:
      • Special needs seating is available at both Commissioning and Commencement. The Graduation Office will contact graduates via email about their guest’s accommodations for seating and parking approximately four weeks prior to the events.
       
    • Should the Spring Commissioning and Commencement ceremonies be held outside, secondary venues with air conditioned seating will be available in the Patricia Carroll Lecture Hall, School of Nursing, room 202 for any guests with weather-related health conditions.
     
    Childcare

    Childcare is available for children, infants to 4 years of age. For all graduations, the Friday hours of operation will be 3:30pm – 9:00pm. The Saturday hours of operation will be 9:00am – 1:00pm for Summer and Winter Graduations, and 8:00am – 1:00pm for Spring Graduation.

    There will be signs throughout campus directing guests to the childcare location. Childcare is located in the Early Learning Center. A Lee University shuttle will be provided back and forth from the venue to the childcare location if guests should need assistance. It may be easier for guests with small children to park at the childcare facility and ride the shuttle to the service venues to save the children the shuttle ride.

    Photography and Videos

    Photography

    Lee University Photography provides official graduation photography services. Portraits are taken of all graduates on stage as they receive their diploma. Cap and Gown Portraits are also available after both the Commissioning and Commencement Services.

    Photos may be viewed at www.leeuphotos.smugmug.com. For more information, please contact the Office of Publications by phone at (423) 614-8627 (M-F 8am-5pm) or email publications@leeuniversity.edu.

    Videos

    Videos of the graduation ceremonies may be accessed through the following resources:

    • For 2015-present Graduation Ceremonies:
      • Live Stream: live video stream of the upcoming ceremonies may be viewed on: livestream.com/leeu.
      • Vimeo: Videos of the Commissioning, Commencement and Hooding ceremonies may be imbedded or downloaded off of Vimeo via Lee University’s page, vimeo.com/leeuniversity. See your graduation program for the release date.
       
    • For 2013-2014 Graduation Ceremonies:  
    • For 2009-2012 Graduation Ceremonies:
      • iTunes: Videos of the Commissioning and Commencement ceremonies may be downloaded free of charge from iTunes. Search “Lee University Graduation,” and select any of the ceremonies you wish to download.
       
     
    Commissioning and Commencement Ceremony Descriptions

    The Commissioning Ceremony on Friday and the Commencement Ceremony on Saturday are both part of Graduation weekend celebrations but are two distinct services. The students and faculty march wearing full regalia for both services, but the content and purpose of each service is different.

    The Commissioning Ceremony is a special time for students and their families. There are student speakers who share brief stories about their time at Lee. Each student walks across the stage to receive a Bible with his or her name on it as a gift. After the service, which lasts approximately 1 and ½ hours, there is a reception for all graduates and their friends and families. The reception is not a ticketed event.

    The Commencement Ceremony is the official conferral of degrees and recognition of academic achievement. There is a guest speaker and all students are recognized by name as they cross the stage and receive their diploma cover.

    Hooding Ceremony Description

    The Hooding Ceremony is specifically for students completing their masters or educational specialist degrees and their guests. It is a ticketed event on the Friday afternoon immediately before the Commissioning Ceremony. During the ceremony each student crosses the stage, is congratulated by his or her Graduate Program Director, and then hooded by his or her Academic Dean. Immediately following, there is a brief reception for students, faculty, and guests. Graduates wear full regalia as they participate in the Commissioning and Commencement ceremonies.

    Contact Information

    Graduation Office
    1120 North Ocoee Street
    PO BOX 3450
    Cleveland TN 37320-3450

    Email: graduation@leeuniversity.edu
    Phone: (423) 614-8117
    Hours:
    Monday - Friday 8:00AM - 5:00PM EST

Academic Calendar

9/29
Graduate Faculty Meeting
Begins at 4:00 PM

Graduate Faculty Meeting
10/01
Deadline for applying for student teaching in the Spring
All day

Deadline for applying for student teaching in the Spring
10/01
Winter Graduation: Application Closes
All day

Winter Graduation: Application Closes
10/02
Winter Graduation Applicants: Due date for Transfer courses to be posted and "I" grades to be removed
All day

Winter Graduation Applicants: Due date for Transfer courses to be posted and "I" grades to be removed
10/06
Faculty Meeting
Begins at 4:00 PM

Pangle Hall
Faculty Meeting
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