The 2,500-plus members of MTSU's first Class of 2020 will make history next Saturday, May 9, when they put the university's total number of graduates over 150,000.
They're also making history as MTSU's first class to close their True Blue time with a virtual commencement ceremony, featuring videos from university President Sidney A. McPhee, Provost Mark Byrnes and special guests offering words of encouragement, along with an on-screen running scroll of all the graduates' names.
The livestreamed event will begin at 10 a.m. May 9 at on MTSU's Facebook page and YouTube channel, which will be accessible, along with more graduation information, on the day of the ceremony at a special website.
MTSU has awarded 147,644 degrees to students since its inaugural 1911-12 academic year. With this spring's anticipated new 2,538 graduates, that number will swell to more than 150,100 alumni.
Like all MTSU commencements since that first one 108 years ago, the spring 2020 ceremony will be free and open to the public. The university will provide closed-captioning services for the virtual event.
"At MTSU, we'll never forget our class of May 2020 graduates,” McPhee said. "Like our past graduates, they prepared for exams, wrote papers they never thought they'd finish and crossed campus in the rain from the only parking spot they could find.
"Unlike most of our past graduates, however, they've endured a true crisis to cross this educational finish line. This was to be their time to shine in front of everyone. … While we can't celebrate this great accomplishment in person at this time, it is being recognized.
"We will salute them as the special group of individuals that they are, who deserved better than what they got, but who never complained and who crossed this finish line with grace and composure.”
The president canceled MTSU's on-campus spring 2020 commencement ceremonies, usually a two-day, three-event Murphy Center celebration, because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's recommendations against large public gatherings.
The university Registrar's Office reports that the group formally receiving their degrees May 9 comprises 2,141 undergraduates and 397 graduate students. The latter number includes 322 master's candidates, 44 education-specialist degree recipients and 31 doctoral candidates. Three graduate students also will receive certificates.
Later this month, all new Class of 2020 graduates will receive a "True Blue Graduation Box” by mail to mark their accomplishments.
The box will include the graduate's MTSU diploma cover with diploma inside; a mortarboard; a unique blue tassel with 2020 drop; two commemorative programs; an invitation to a future ceremony; a special MTSU gift; an MTSU Alumni bag; an appropriate Latin Honors stole if earned; and a gift from the Daniels Veterans and Military Family Center for student veterans.
The spring 2020 graduates also will be invited to participate in a future on-campus commencement ceremony.
Graduation information — including links to the university Registrar's Office — is available anytime at mtsunews.com/graduation-info.
MTSU will continue its 2019-20 academic year on Monday, May 18, when summer 2020 classes begin. Like the spring 2020 semester, all summer MTSU courses will be presented remotely. For status updates on MTSU, visit mtsu.edu/coronavirus.