“A spirit of great joy” as Drury holds commencements for spring 2020 graduates

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., August 15, 2020 — Drury University’s spring 2020 graduates had their moment in the spotlight during commencement ceremonies on Friday and Saturday. The events were postponed from their usual May timeframe due to the coronavirus pandemic.  

The ceremony for graduates of evening and online programs, now called Drury GO, and graduates of the College of Graduate Studies was held Friday night. A ceremony for graduates of the traditional residential college was held today. In total, 479 graduates earned degrees across all Drury programs this spring and summer.

The ceremonies were markedly different than in the past, with distanced seating for the graduates on the floor of the O’Reilly Family Event Center, limited and distanced seating for guests in the stands, and everyone wearing masks. Yet the events still held the same sense of excitement for graduates and their families, marking “both a conclusion and a beginning” as provost Dr. Beth Harville said in opening remarks.

“We gather this morning with a spirit of great joy in celebration of this graduating class,” said Dr. Peter Browning, Drury chaplain, in the opening prayer on Saturday. “In a time of anxiety and fear in the face of the pandemic, we come together to affirm the power of hope. These candidates for graduation represent great hope for our future and we are deeply grateful.”

Graduates also heard remarks from Drury president Dr. Tim Cloyd and Alumni Council president John Pope, both of whom spoke about perseverance and grit.

“I commend you on your resilience in the face of adversity,” Cloyd said. “You filled a promise you made to yourself to find the strength, courage and confidence to unlock your fullest potential.”

Pope reminded the graduates that their challenging course work has helped them build mental toughness and an inner drive to succeed. Their time at Drury has helped them learn how to improvise, adapt and overcome, he said, adding that a plan of attack may change many times, but goals remain the same.

“You are now tasked with going out into the world and putting your talents, skills and Drury education to work,” Pope said. “And while this world seems a lot different than it did a year ago, don’t forget that Drury has been preparing you all along to succeed and thrive in any environment. This pandemic will eventually end, but until it does never forget these things.”

Saturday’s ceremony was punctuated by an unusually lengthy and warm standing ovation from faculty members in attendance and family and friends in the stands – a reminder of the spirit of caring and interconnectedness fostered at Drury.

“As you navigate your path, you have a university and thousands of Drury Alumni cheering you on,” Pope said.


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