BREAKING: STU to hold spring convocation in-person

    A student wears a T-ring, a common accessory for graduating St. Thomas University students, in this archive photograph on Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021. (Aaron Sousa/AQ)

    St. Thomas University announced Tuesday around 2:15 p.m. that it will hold an in-person spring convocation for the May 2022 graduating class.

    Dawn Russell, president and vice-chancellor of STU, wrote in an email to students the ceremony will take place at 2 p.m. on May 17 at the Grant-Harvey Centre. She wrote it will follow a “usual program,” consisting of an honourary degree, address to graduates, conferral of degrees, valedictory and student medals.

    Instead of the traditional graduation dinner, the Tom McCann Award, along with other academic prizes, will be awarded at convocation. In addition, former STU students who graduated in 2020 and 2021 can also participate and receive recognition.

    “We will communicate more details on spring convocation in the coming weeks,” wrote Russell in the email. “For now, I want to wish you well as you work towards the end of the semester, particularly those completing their degree.”

    Russell wrote STU will have health measures in place for the ceremony, which will also be live-streamed on the university’s YouTube channel.

    Jeffrey Carleton, vice president of communications at STU, said over the past several weeks, New Brunswick gradually lifted COVID-19 restrictions under the emergency mandatory order up until March 14.

    When the Government of New Brunswick announced its plan to lift all remaining restrictions, STU said it would continue with the restrictions it had in place on campus, but started considering the possibility of in-person convocation, said Carleton.

    Carleton said the Grant-Harvey Centre, where graduation will be held, can hold approximately 1,200 people in the stands. It will be STU’s first in-person convocation since 2019.

    He said there is a lot of planning that needs to happen and the university will have more details to share with students.

    “Our goal will be to make it as typical and as usual as it would be for such an important event, as spring convocation,” he said.

    The decision was made internally earlier this week.

    Carleton said STU will work with facilities and those in charge of setup to ensure its own health measures are in place, despite the Grant-Harvey Centre not having any current masking, distancing and capacity regulations.

    The convocation will be live-streamed for students and families who aren’t able to attend or who don’t feel comfortable.

    “I get the sense that graduating students are excited about this,” said Carleton. “It has been a challenging two years for all students and those graduating this year.”

    Tory Desroche, STU’s graduating class president, said she did not have a say in the decision of in-person convocation and found out when the email was sent.

    Desroche said she received emails from students looking for more information about convocation, like international students interested in bringing their families to Fredericton for the ceremony.

    She said having an in-person graduation is relieving to students since they did their part to prevent COVID-19 the last two years.

    “I’m really excited,” she said. “Honestly, I think that this is the best decision that [STU] could have made.”