University of Lynchburg’s 2020 graduates frustrated with lack of in-person ceremony

The university will make a formal announcement regarding commencement on April 1

2020 graduates from the University of Lynchburg believe they're being snubbed after not receiving an in-person ceremony.

LYNCHBURG, Va. – As Virginia loosens COVID-19 restrictions for graduation ceremonies, there are concerns from members of the University of Lynchburg’s Class of 2020.

Like many last year, they never had a graduation, and share why they’re feeling left out a year later.

“It really feels like it just got ripped away from us, and so it’s more so the principle of the thing,” said Christa Walker, University of Lynchburg graduate.

Some 2020 graduates and their loved ones believe they’re being snubbed from having their own commencement ceremony on the University of Lynchburg’s campus.

This comes as the university announced it’s planning a limited, in-person graduation for the Class of 2021.

Walker earned her communications degree last year and says, yes, she’s already moved on with her life without an actual graduation but still wants proper recognition.

“We can’t help but introduced a little bit of selfishness with it,” said Walker.

Deanna Yinger’s daughter, Emily, is also putting her degree to use, but this 2020 graduate’s mother wants to see her child walk the stage.

“We almost feel like they got our money and now goodbye,” said Yinger. “That was the class that went home thinking they would always return, so they had no goodbyes, no pictures, no anything.”

In a March 15th email to new alumni, the university decided to celebrate their class virtually on May 22nd, citing they discourage graduates from traveling to campus. However, the email notes “definitive plans will be announced April 1.”

Walker credits U of L for following safety protocols but believes there was a miscommunication.

“There just seems to be, really, a lack of discussion and outreach with the Class of 2020,” she said.

Yinger reached out to the university this week and remains optimistic.

“They said that they were sorry, but they had to abide by the governor’s guidelines, and I asked if they would reconsider it, and they said they might,” said Yinger.

In a statement to 10 News, a spokesperson says university leaders plan to meet Monday. They’re considering every scenario and will make a formal announcement on April 1.

Here’s the University of Lynchburg’s full statement:

We are considering all scenarios with our planning. Previously, restrictions from the governor’s office severely limited what we could do and we now have more options.

Our COVID-19 Task Force and Commencement Committee are working together to determine what our commencement plans will look like now and we will make a formal announcement on April 1.

The situation seems to change almost daily and we are working hard to give our graduates and their families the best experience possible — while also ensuring the safety of all in our community.

Michael J. Jones - Vice President, Communications and Marketing

About the Author:

Tim Harfmann joined the 10 News team in September 2020 and works at the station's Lynchburg bureau.