To the Spring Graduates of the Class of 2020:
In these difficult times, we have the unique opportunity to reflect on the past, and remind ourselves of all the times we have risen to the occasion in order to overcome adversity. Not only did we rise, but we became stronger. We often don’t know how strong we are until our strength is tested. It is the way that we react to the adversity, and not the adversity itself, that makes us stronger. You, the spring class of 2020, know all too well what it is like to face adversity, having been born in the wake of September 11th. Not only that, but during your time at Coastal Carolina University, you were faced with Hurricane Matthew in 2016, Hurricane Irma in 2017, Hurricane Florence in 2018, Hurricane Dorian in 2019 and countless other individual challenges in pursuit of earning your degree. Together, as Teal Nation, we will overcome all the adversity surrounding COVID-19 in order to celebrate all that you, the spring class of 2020, have accomplished.
The decision to adjust the plans for the spring 2020 traditional commencement ceremonies has been one of the most difficult tasks I have been faced with during my 13-year tenure as President. While I know this decision is a disappointment for you, your family and friends—and for me as well—the health and safety of not only the CCU community, but the surrounding communities, the nation, and the world as a whole, must remain our top priority.
Commencement is the highlight of the academic year and a time when we, as a University, proudly present our newest Chanticleer graduates to the world. It is an exciting day filled with many emotions; and it is all for you, our graduates. I have had the privilege to experience this day in various roles; and without a doubt, my favorite roles have been as the President of Coastal Carolina University and as the parent of three CCU graduates.
As President, I was looking forward to spending my final spring commencement with the class of 2020; watching all of you cross the stage and shaking your hands in congratulations. While I may no longer get the opportunity to celebrate with you in person during this spring, I hope you will join the University as we identify ways to celebrate your graduation. We will be inviting spring 2020 graduates to participate in the summer 2020 or winter 2020 ceremonies on campus. I understand the significance of having your family and friends with you to celebrate this defining moment in your lives. Once the threat of COVID-19 is eliminated, CCU will be able to provide updated information on future ceremonies for spring 2020 graduates on the commencement website.
As a parent and educator, I am heartbroken that you will not receive the traditional ceremony and recognition deserved at the time of your degree being conferred. For your benefit, I will confer your degrees as scheduled in May. Conferring your degree means you will have all the rights and privileges you have earned as a graduate of CCU.
While this situation is unlike anything we could have ever expected, we know the hard work you have put into earning your degree, and we are going to do everything we can to honor you and give you the celebration you deserve. We are extremely proud of each of you, and we can’t wait to see all of the amazing things you will do. You’re a Chanticleer, tenacious and true, you’ll fight until the end for CCU.
David A. DeCenzo, Ph.D.
Coastal Carolina University