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Faculty gauntlet, e-diplomas coming to Fall Commencement

By Luanne Williams

Wingate University will bring back some long-held traditions and introduce a high-tech twist to Fall Commencement as 130 undergraduates and 150 graduate students cross the stage in Cuddy Arena on Dec. 18. Spring Commencement, set for May 17 and 18, will shift from the weekend to a weekday affair. 

The faculty gauntlet

For years, at Wingate commencement ceremonies, faculty members would line up on both sides of the sidewalk forming a tunnel of sorts for graduates to pass through on their way into the event to receive congratulatory high-fives and hugs from their favorite professors. Suspended because of social distancing required during the Covid pandemic, the gauntlet is expected to return in December, with some safety precautions.

“We will keep our eyes on the public health ball in the event modifications are needed, but a revival of this beloved tradition will be in order in a manner that is safe and yet still heartfelt,” Provost Jeff Frederick announced recently.

Electronic diplomas

Rather than receiving a paper copy of their diploma during the ceremonies, graduates will receive an email on or shortly after graduation day with a link to their certified electronic diploma, a digital credential that they can easily send to family and friends or to potential employers who may need proof of their degree. 

Kristie Begley, Wingate’s assistant registrar, said the electronic diplomas, which are an exact duplicate of the paper diplomas graduates will receive later by mail, can be easily shared and should benefit U.S. students as well as international grads, many of whom need verification of their degrees in addition to a transcript.

Unlike the detailed list of courses shown on a transcript, Wingate’s electronic diplomas will show only the most important details and will include a unique 12-digit serial number that potential employers or licensing government agencies can use to get immediate verification of the degree. Graduates applying for jobs can speed up the vetting process by adding their code and the validation URL to their resume, applications and LinkedIn profiles.

Begley said that during the commencement ceremonies, graduates will hold a diploma cover in the traditional photo-ops (one as they shake hands with President Rhett Brown and the second just after they come off the stage). She said graduates will receive their paper, frame-worthy diplomas in the mail within about six weeks of graduation.

The new electronic diplomas are not only for current graduates, but can also be purchased by alumni via the University website. Learn more about the benefits of certified electronic diplomas.

Spring schedule

Spring commencement, traditionally held on the weekend, will move to a Tuesday and Wednesday this coming May to maximize the number of instructional days in the academic calendar. 

Registrar Maria Taylor said the class calendar and commencement schedule were shifted to be able to offer students more opportunities to take classes off-cycle. With the spring semester starting later, Wingate is now able to offer a winter term from Dec. 20 to Jan. 13 so that students can pick up a course they need without adding an extra semester.

“All of these changes are about meeting students where they are and helping them make the most of their time at Wingate,” Taylor said.

Dec. 8, 2021