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FPU announces plans for delayed graduation

  • Franklin Pierce University Staff photo by Ben Conant

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 4/6/2020 4:55:00 PM

Franklin Pierce University has announced it will still hold a graduation ceremony, though it will be delayed until this summer, and have a smaller scope than the university’s typical commencement.

“The members of the class of 2020 began their freshman year in the very same month I became president of Franklin Pierce University,” University President Kim Mooney said Monday. “Over the past four years I’ve been in awe of the optimism, compassion, talent and humor they’ve brought to campus. They hold a special place in my heart, and it grieves me to see the commencement and celebration they worked so hard for taken away.”

Last week, Mooney, as well as Andrew Pollom, dean of student affairs, met online with the student government leaders of the senior class to discuss Senior Week activities, including the graduation ceremony. The entire senior class was invited to join the conversation via Zoom to provide their own input.

“While it was clear we would no longer be able to hold our commencement as originally scheduled, we all agreed that we do not want to cancel it. Instead, we decided we will work to reschedule it,” Mooney said. “Our plan, if it’s safe to do so, is to hold a condensed commencement, probably in July.”

Mooney said that plan is still potentially in flux, depending upon the situation in July.

“My hope is that we can assuage, if even in a small way, the fact that they were so abruptly separated from one another. It’s important to all of us that they have another day together before they share with the world as graduates what they learned at Franklin Pierce,” Mooney said.

Meanwhile, as of March 30, the college has moved to completing its school year through online courses. This was not an entirely new process for FPU, which already offers graduate and undergraduate courses online, and has for over 10 years. Faculty have been offered virtual workshops to assist with moving their curriculum online.

Mooney said the first day of classes, students and faculty had issues with lag time with the online platform used by FPU. Those issues were caused by the platform’s systems, not Franklin Pierce’s, and were resolved that day, and has been running smoothly since.

“Regardless, there will be hurdles as all of us – students and faculty – adjust to remote learning,” Mooney said. “Some students will also struggle with it, or perhaps lack the quiet study space and computing assets they need. We’ll of course work with them to make sure their needs are met. We will know more as the semester progresses and everyone grows accustomed to a different way of teaching and learning.”

The college has also begun to arrange to have students return to campus in small groups to retrieve belongings left behind when they left the campus for spring break, and were ultimately not allowed to return due to the campus shut-down. Mooney said the university plans to have small numbers of students return to campus in two-hour windows between the dates of May 5 and May 10, to allow the campus to maintain social distancing guidelines.

Like graduation, this plan is dependent upon the current COVID-19 guidelines for the state and the region at the time. If Gov. Chris Sununu extends the stay-at-home order or other factors dictate that students returning to Rindge isn’t safe, plans will have to be adjusted, Mooney said. The university is working with students who will not be able to return to campus in the short-term future to ensure their belongings are either sent home or stored on campus.

For those students who roomed on campus, seniors will be given a refund on unused room and board, and returning students will be issued a credit as part of the 2020 financial aid awards, according to Mooney. The process for determining eligibility for credits is being calculated individually, and students are expected to be notified by the end of the month regarding their credit.

The college has allowed 13 students with extenuating circumstances to remain on campus in Rindge for the foreseeable future, which includes eight international students who were unable to return home at the start of spring break, and now cannot travel. Franklin Pierce did not have any international or study abroad programs at the time of the campus shut-down.

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 244 or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter @AshleySaariMLT.


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