West Liberty, W.Va., May 9, 2020 — In a spring like no other, with a pandemic changing every aspect of life, the Class of 2020 prevailed and West Liberty University celebrated commencement in a virtual ceremony at 11 a.m., Saturday, May 9, 2020.
“We congratulate the Class of 2020 on their perseverance and tenacity, as they completed the semester and final exams in an unexpected way to arrive at this momentous occasion of commencement,” said Dr. Stephen Greiner, WLU President.
Even Mother Nature added to the unusual day by sending snowflakes in May. But none of the oddities of life could dampen the spirit of the ceremony.
WLU’s virtual choir performed the National Anthem and Alma Mater and began the ceremony that was presided over by President Greiner who went on to confer 371 degrees. A total of 66 master degrees, 39 associate degrees and 290 bachelor degrees were conferred (some students earned more than one degree).
Board of Governors Chairperson Rich Lucas congratulated graduates, which included his son, Brice, a graduating senior from the College of Business.
Graduating student speaker Mackenzie Sims of Davisville, W.Va., earned an elementary education degree from the College of Education and Human Performance.
She began her address by explaining why she chose West Liberty University as a high school student athlete and why she joined Coach Kayla Mull as a member of the Hilltopper volleyball team.
“I knew I made the right decision when I arrived on campus,” Sims said as she went on to explain how she discovered what she wanted to major in and confirmed her career path.
“But now we are all sharing similar feelings of anxiety, doubt and even anger due to the pandemic. … After all, when we left for spring break we had no idea we would never return to campus to finish the semester and celebrate our last days as seniors.”
Sims itemized the many events and special moments that students missed.
“But as I reflected here at home, I remember the good things we did have, Homecomings, athletic games, Greek Life, and campus life and I look forward to when we can be together again. It’s true what they say, you do make lifelong friends in college.”
Sims referenced a quote attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson, saying that, “Life is a journey not a destination, and this is something I strive to live by. It inspires growth and learning.
“This isn’t what any of us expected. But we each have wonderful moments to remember. Look back on your time here as meaningful and well spent. We are stronger than before. Our resilience is remarkable and we have rewritten history. We’ve overcome obstacles together, so congratulations Class of 2020! We did it!”
Additional remarks and best wishes were made by distinguished guests including:
- Governor Jim Justice
- Senator Joe Manchin
- Senator Shelley Moore Capito
- Congressman David B. McKinley
- Senator William J. Ihlenfeld II
- Senator Ryan W. Weld
- Delegate Erikka Storch
- Delegate Shawn Fluharty
- Delegate Phillip Diserio
- Ohio County Schools Superintendent Kim Miller
- Mayor Glenn Elliott
- Chairman of the WLU Foundation Board David Croft
Wall of Honor Alumni John Hoppers, Richmond Glover and Elizabeth “Jake” Feinler also sent along videos of their best wishes for graduates. Executive Director of Alumni Ron Witt also shared his best wishes with graduates and encouraged them to remain engaged with WLU through the many activities and outreach of the alumni office.
The ceremony was live on WLU’s streaming platform Topper Station (topperstation.com) and on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube LIVE.
The virtual ceremony also aired live on WLU-TV14 (Comcast Channel 14) and will be replayed throughout the day.
Graduates also will be invited back to campus for a traditional ceremony at a later date when it is safe to do so according to the CDC and state health officials.
Students in the Physician Assistant Studies Master’s Degree Program, which has a commencement ceremony planned for June 12, will graduate later this spring.
West Liberty University is a forward-looking, four-year public university steeped in a rich heritage as West Virginia’s oldest institution. Today it offers more than 70 undergraduate majors, plus a growing number of graduate programs. For more information, please call 1.866.937.8542 (WESTLIB) or visit westliberty.edu, follow WLU on social media or view westliberty.edu/youtube.