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4/6/2020 – Message from President Rice to campus

Dear UMPI Students,

I wanted to update you this morning on the work that the Commencement Committee has been doing since the Chancellor’s announcement that no “live, in-person” commencements will be occurring on May 9.  I asked the committee, which includes Matthew Payan (the President of the Student Government Association) and Evan Zarkadas (your student representative to the Board of Trustees), to explore ways to ensure a distance-based virtual commencement on May 9 in addition to multiple recognitions that would be live and in-person (or the way we are all much more accustomed to experiencing graduations!), after May 9 and the end of the COVID-19 emergency.  I expect to have recommendations that can be shared with everyone later this week; our final recommendations will go to the Chancellor’s office by April 15. My thanks to the many students who have sent specific recommendations, as well as general thoughts about commencement, which I have shared with the committee. Please note that we will look for ways to offer as many as possible alternative experiences to meet what we know are very uncertain schedules for you after this May.  

As you are well aware, Governor Mills has initiated a series of health executive orders, including a “stay at home mandate” on March 31, that prohibits the use of public transportation (except for essential services), limiting the number of individuals traveling in private vehicles, a general “stay at home order” except for those fulfilling essential, the minimum six-feet distance rule between individuals except at home or essential work areas, and the closing of all classroom or other in-person instruction until at least May 1.  This has closed all educational institutions, including UMPI, to any on-site engagement with students until further notice. Hopefully, that further notice will come within weeks, but the ability of these measures– and, frankly, people’s compliance with them is a factor– will determine how long that duration will be here in the State of Maine.

My thanks to your fortitude and perseverance throughout this emergency, and my enduring admiration especially to this Class of 2020, their success and accomplishments, both now and long after this pandemic has passed.  

As I noted earlier, I will update you in a few short days with more specific plans for the May 9 Commencement exercises (virtual) and subsequent live celebrations and recognitions in honor of the Class of 2020.

Best,

Ray