Graduation candidates’ decorated mortar boards display a mélange of color and messaging.
UT System spring graduation ceremonies will be postponed following the CDC's recommendation that all events with 50 people or more be canceled or postponed. Credit: Bonnie Arbittier / San Antonio Report

University of Texas System Chancellor James Milliken wrote to the presidents of system universities, including University of Texas at San Antonio President Taylor Eighmy, with new guidelines related to coronavirus Tuesday.

Milliken announced spring graduation ceremonies will be postponed following the CDC’s recommendation that all events with 50 people or more be canceled or postponed. Graduating seniors will still receive their degrees as scheduled, but ceremonies will be held at a later date, the chancellor said.

All instruction within the UT System will be provided online. Milliken asked university presidents to encourage students traveling on spring break to return home and complete their coursework remotely.

“No one recognizes better than [the university presidents] the disappointment these actions will bring and the hard work that will be required to implement them,” Milliken wrote. “Under these circumstances, though, our commitment to the health and safety of students and their families, our institutions, and our larger communities requires no less.”

The chancellor also announced that the number of students living in campus residence halls and participating in campus dining programs will be limited to those who do not have a suitable alternative, as determined on a case-by-case basis.

UT System will create a system-wide emergency fund for specific student needs.

Up until this point, UTSA had extended spring break to March 20 to allow staff to prepare response plans for coronavirus. The university planned to have classes resume on March 23 online. The plan was for online instruction to continue through at least April 13, with campus to remain open following the spring break extension.

On Wednesday, Texas A&M University – San Antonio President Cynthia Teniente-Matson wrote to students, telling them that the spring 2020 commencement ceremony would be postponed, but that their degrees would be conferred as expected.

“Please know that this postponement doesn’t mean cancellation,” she wrote. “In fact, we are already actively working to identify a new date for the ceremony – likely in late September.”

Our Lady of the Lake University officials announced Thursday that the May commencement ceremony would be canceled and combined with the December ceremony.

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Emily Donaldson

Emily Donaldson reports on education for the San Antonio Report.