First-ever virtual graduation at the U of U

Apr 30, 2020, 7:53 PM | Updated: May 14, 2020, 9:32 am
Just one week after eight HBCUs were threatened, a bomb threat was called in on at the University o...
FILE: Campus gates near President's Circle at the U of U. Credit: Paul Nelson

SALT LAKE CITY — Not a lot of pomp at the University of Utah virtual graduation today … under the circumstances. 

Instead, things were extremely quiet on the U of U campus. Thursday was the day when thousands of people were originally scheduled to be there.  But the school wasn’t able to hold its regular commencement ceremony,  so they hosted a virtual one instead.

Campus almost deserted during virtual graduation at U of U

Anyone who has attended a graduation at a college campus knows how things should have been on campus Thursday.  Parking lots should have been full beyond capacity.  Loudspeakers should have blasted inspirational speeches.  Families should have lined up to hug and congratulate their students in caps and gowns.

None of that happened today.

Instead, there were a scant number of students wearing their regalia scattered about campus and taking pictures with their families.  One of those students, Nam Nguyen, was disappointed when the school announced they wouldn’t hold a traditional commencement.  However, he was certain he would take part in the virtual ceremony.

“I mean, something is always better than nothing,” he said.

(Nam Nguyen, with family, taking a picture on commencement day. Credit: Paul Nelson)

Elizabeth Peters was selected to sing the national anthem at commencement and says she was crushed when she learned it wouldn’t go on as planned.

“That was so difficult,” she said.  “It was heartbreaking and sad.  But, I also knew there was a reason for it and a purpose for it.”

She says her heartbreak went away when she learned the university was hosting a virtual ceremony. 

“I was elated, because it was like, ‘Oh! At least I can do something,’” Peters said.

She performed the anthem in a recording studio.  She watched as people kept a safe distance away from each other.  Peters remembers it felt strange to sing with absolutely no audience in front of her. 

University leaders have been recording messages to honor their students over the past few weeks.

Spokesperson Morgan Aguilar says they couldn’t just do nothing.

“We are so devastated that we couldn’t share in this exciting accomplishment and achievement,” she said, “and honor and recognize our students in person like we love doing every single year.”

Virtual graduation at U of U won’t replace ‘the walk’

This commencement ceremony did not replace the tradition of a student “walking” and having their names announced.  Graduates will have another chance to do that in the winter.  Aguilar says they asked students if they still wanted to have a convocation after the risk of getting COVID-19 coronavirus goes down.

“The majority of students elected a December option for in-person convocation,” she says.

People who missed the commencement when it aired can watch it later on the university’s website.  After that, it will be posted on the school’s YouTube channel.


Graduation in COVID-19 era: Virtual ceremonies, car parades or delayed rites

Here are three Utah school districts’ plans for virtual graduation ceremonies

Coronavirus resources

How To Prevent the Spread of COVID-19Coronavirus

COVID-19 coronavirus is transmitted from person to person. It is a virus that is similar to the common cold and the flu. So, to prevent it from spreading:

  • Wash hands frequently and thoroughly, with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds.
  • Don’t touch your face.
  • Keep children and those with compromised immune systems away from someone who is coughing or sneezing (in this instance, at least six feet)
  • If there is an outbreak near you, practice social distancing (stay at home, instead of going to the movies, sports events, or other activities.)
  • Get a flu shot.

Local resources

KSL Coronavirus Q&A

Utah’s Coronavirus Information

UtahState Board of Education

Utah Hospital Association

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Utah Coronavirus Information Line – 1-800-456-7707

National Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Commonly asked questions, World Health Organization

Cases in the United States

Today’s Top Stories


Anderson was arrested the morning of Sept. 24, 2022, by West Valley Police on felony child sexual a...
Waverly Golden

First grade teacher in Magna arrested on felony child sexual abuse charges

Elk Run Elementary first grade teacher Dale Anderson was arrested this morning on felony child sexual abuse charges.
3 days ago
Aaron Fotheringham, aka "Wheelz" from Nitro Circus taught and performed tricks at Wheelchair Palooz...
Waverly Golden

Wheelchair Palooza at Woodward Park City

Aaron Fotheringham, aka "Wheelz" from Nitro Circus taught and performed tricks at Wheelchair Palooza in Park City.
3 days ago
(Exterior of the Salt Lake City School District offices.  Photo: Paul Nelson)...
Lindsay Aerts

Salt Lake City School District is parting ways with its superintendent

The Salt Lake City School District announced it is parting ways with its superintendent during a board meeting Friday evening.
4 days ago
Mom and daughter with piggy bank. Parents can have a big role in the financial education of their k...
Adam Small

BYU study finds role-modeling, hands-on learning most effective financial education for kids

Financial education from parents to their children is best done through modeling and hands-on learning, according to researchers.
4 days ago
Tonight at 6 p.m., South Valley School in West Jordan is hosting a dance for special needs students...
Elizabeth Weiler

Dance to be held at South Valley School for students with special needs

Tonight at 6 p.m., South Valley School in West Jordan is hosting a dance for special needs students.
4 days ago
Screenshot from the BYU documentary about the Black 14. 10 of the players are pictured next to a ne...
Chris Jacobs

BYU premieres documentary ‘The Black 14: Healing Hearts and Feeding Souls’

The new BYU documentary, "The Black 14" Healing Hearts and Feeding Souls," focuses on a 1969 football game between BYU and the University of Wyoming.
4 days ago

Sponsored Articles

a worker with a drill in an orange helmet installs a door in the house...
Price's Guaranteed Doors

Home improvement tip: Increase the value of your home by weatherproofing doors

Make sure your home is comfortable before the winter! Seasonal maintenance keeps your home up to date. Read our tips on weatherproofing doors.
Curb Appeal...
Price's Guaranteed Doors

How to have the best of both worlds for your house | Home security and curb appeal

Protect your home and improve its curb appeal with the latest security solutions like beautiful garage doors and increased security systems.
A paper reading IRS, internal revenue service is pictured...
Jordan Wilcox

The best strategies for dealing with IRS tax harassment | You have options!

Learn how to deal with IRS tax harassment. This guide will teach you how to stop IRS phone calls and letters, and how to handle an IRS audit.
spend a day at Bear Lake...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

You’ll love spending the day at Bear Lake | How to spend a day at Bear Lake

Bear Lake is a place that needs to be experienced. Spend a day at Bear Lake.
Prescription opioids can be disposed of during National Prescription Take Back Day...
Know Your Script

Prescription opioid misuse | How to protect your family from the opioid epidemic

Studies have shown that prescription opioid misuse has increased since COVID-19. So what do you need to know about these opioids?
national heart month...
Intermountain Healthcare

National Heart Month: 5 Lifestyle Changes to Make Today to Keep You Heart Healthy

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. One person dies every 36 seconds in the United States from cardiovascular disease
First-ever virtual graduation at the U of U