University of Michigan cancels spring commencement, will 'celebrate graduates in the future'

Sarah Rahal
The Detroit News

The University of Michigan officials announced Friday they are canceling spring 2020 commencement activities across its three campuses to limit the spread of coronavirus.

"This includes both the large campus-wide ceremonies and individual school, college and group recognition ceremonies," the university said. "We know that this is very disappointing to many, and we are looking at ways to celebrate 2020 graduates in the future."

Officials said they have taken steps to tentatively reschedule the April 26 ceremonies to Aug. 16 at the Dort Federal Credit Union Event Center in Flint but that date could change.

"Commencement is a special time for our @Umich graduates and their families," UM President Mark Schlissel said Friday evening on Twitter. "We also want it to be safe. The Class of 2020 deserves to be celebrated, and we will work with grads to find a new date for a commencement ceremony."

The university is among Michigan's public institutions that reacted to the state's confirmed cases of coronavirus, which reached 16 on Friday.

Schools, including UM, Michigan State University and Wayne State University, announced temporary shifts to online learning. 

UM said finals will be taken remotely and  classes will resume Monday remotely. The Ann Arbor Provost’s Office has additional information and resources on remote instruction on its Keep Teaching at U-M page.

► More: Most Michigan public universities halt in-person classes due to coronavirus

The rapid increase in cases and the expectation that there will be more prompted Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to declare a state of emergency Tuesday, followed by an executive order Thursday closing K-12 schools and banning assemblies of more than 250 people through April 5. 

President Donald Trump on Friday declared the coronavirus pandemic a national emergency in order to free up more money and resources. He also announced a range of executive actions to bolster energy markets, ease the financial burden for Americans with student loans and give medical professionals additional “flexibility” in treating patients during the public health crisis.

The 16 Michigan cases appear to have some commonalities, with all but a few involving recent international or domestic travel. The cases also all seem to involve largely middle-age adult patients, who are in isolation at home or in a hospital.

While most patients had limited exposure to others, according to county health departments, two people in Oakland County traveled to different locations throughout southeast Michigan, west Michigan and the Thumb after their presumed time of exposure.

Twitter: @SarahRahal_