Spring semester to be finished online, graduation moved to August


The chancellor responded to a list of demands released by students. (Kat Matthews / TCU 360)

By Renee Umsted

Update: Commencement has been postponed until August 8, Chancellor Victor Boschini announced in an email sent March 27.

Following the announcement last week that extended spring break and scheduled two weeks of online classes, Chancellor Victor Boschini said in an email that the rest of TCU’s semester would be finished online. 

Anna Salerno is a senior education major who is graduating in May. She said her initial reaction to Boschini’s email was shock and disbelief. 

“It’s just chaos,” she said.

Salerno’s mother graduated from TCU in 1976. For her, “she’s never seen anything like this.”

Liza Gill, a first-year strategic communication major, said though she wasn’t surprised about the news, it did disappoint her.

“I just feel like freshman year was kinda cut short because of it,” Gill said.

Although Salerno believes her professors are prepared to continue instruction online, she thinks this type of learning will be more difficult for certain classes.

For example, Salerno has an internship at Doxology Bible Church that earns her class credit. However, all of the employees are working from home, and she is unable to complete her work remotely. 

Campus will remain mostly empty for the rest of the semester. Photo by Cristian ArguetaSoto

There are several factors that make online classes more difficult than on-campus classes, Gill said.

For her, one factor that might make the transition difficult is the difference between the home and the school environment.

“Now that I’m home, it’s gonna be harder to stay on top of everything, that way I’m prepared in the end for my final,” Gill said.

Gill, who lives in Los Angeles, said she’s also worried about the time difference.

Another area of concern to students regards housing.

Previously, Housing & Residence Life staff had told students they had to move out by April 5. Now, students living on campus are not required to move out by that date and will be allowed to pick up their belongings by appointment, said Craig Allen, the housing director, in an email to campus residents. 

Before the move-out date was postponed, Gill said she was upset because of the expense and worries associated with traveling with one of her parents back to Texas to pack up her belongings still in her room in Moncrief Hall. 

“I think that was needed because not everyone’s comfortable to travel at this time, and not everyone can,” she said.

Although switching to distance learning is an adjustment for many seniors, uncertainty about graduation — especially when and where it will occur — is their main concern.

To date, no decision has been made about commencement, Boschini said. 

“I am still holding out hope for our ‘normal and traditional’ commencement ceremony,” Boschini wrote in an email. “But it is looking dim at this moment.” 

He added that in making the decision, he is primarily considering the thoughts and feelings of graduating seniors, as well as guidance from governmental officials, such as the city of Fort Worth, the governor and the CDC.

If the typical commencement ceremony is not held, Boschini said many ideas have been brought up: having an electronic ceremony, mailing diplomas with notes to graduates, postponing the ceremony and asking this semester’s graduates to walk with the December 2020 graduates.

“I’m a graduating senior this May, and it’s just kinda disheartening to know that I’m losing two months of my senior year or my college experience,” Salerno said. “But it is for the greater good so no one else gets sick.”