June 26, 2020 - 10:53 am - Posted in News

Orange City, Iowa— Northwestern College will award degrees to 317 students on Saturday, July 18th, in graduation ceremonies postponed since May due to the coronavirus.

Commencement will begin at 8 p.m. in De Valois Stadium. 92 students will receive Master of Education degrees; 201 Bachelor of Arts degrees; and 24 Bachelor of Science in Nursing degrees. Another 4 students are graduating from Northwestern NEXT, a two-year program for students with intellectual or developmental disabilities.

In a survey of graduates about how they wanted to celebrate commencement, students overwhelmingly voted for an in-person ceremony. Northwestern President Greg Christy says that Commencement is a very important rite of passage, both for those who will be graduating as well as for their families. Northwestern is eager to celebrate this milestone with them in a way that safeguards participants’ health.

Graduates, faculty and staff will be seated on the field and spaced 6 feet apart. Members of the audience will be encouraged to physically distance by family units while seated in the stadium’s bleachers.

This year’s commencement will include aspects of the college’s annual baccalaureate service and senior honors ceremony, since those events were canceled due to COVID-19. Honors Scholars and the Outstanding Graduating Seniors will be recognized during the program, and commencement will conclude with graduates holding lit candles, like they traditionally do at the close of baccalaureate.

Jeff and Karen Barker, who retired this spring after 32 years as professors in Northwestern’s theatre department, will serve as this year’s commencement speakers.

The couple—whose relationship began during a college play, joined NWC’s faculty in 1988, sharing one full-time theatre position for the first decade of their career while their children were small. Together they won a Northwestern teaching award in 1991.

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