By Lucas Johnson

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – The pandemic is preventing Tennessee State University from having a traditional graduation, but graduates say they will still be thrilled when they are recognized virtually on Saturday, Aug. 1. 

The University’s 746 spring graduates are being honored with a 2020 Virtual Commencement at 9 a.m. CDT. The ceremony will be live streamed on the TSU homepage (, YouTube ( and Facebook (

“While we recognize the importance of a traditional commencement for our students and their families, we must balance it with the associated risks at this time of COVID-19,” says TSU President Glenda Glover. “This decision was not easy because our graduates have earned the honor of participating in a traditional commencement. But on Saturday, though virtual, we will celebrate them with the same Big Blue spirit as if they were in person.” 

Senior Tommy Evans of Belleville, Illinois, says he will miss not walking across the stage, but is appreciative to TSU for making sure that students receive recognition another way. 

“I’m excited, because either way, we’re being celebrated for our accomplishments,” says Evans, a criminal justice major and senior class vice president. 

Seliene Munroe Bignall, who is getting her doctorate in education administration, agrees. 

“I feel very, very blessed,” says Bignall of Nashville. “It has been a long journey, especially with what’s going on here and around the world.”

While they will miss the traditional graduation, students say they understand that because of the coronavirus, safety comes first. They also laud their soon-to-be alma mater for what it’s doing to make the campus safe for students coming after them. 

In March, as a result of the virus, like other higher education institutions around the country, TSU sent students home to finish the semester and employees began working remotely. The University immediately began a deep cleaning and sanitizing of the campus. 

Evans was among some of the students who remained on campus through the end of the semester, and says he was impressed with steps the University took to make the campus safe.  

“They did a very thorough cleaning,” says Evans. “I felt very safe.” 

The University is set to reopen on August 17 under a comprehensive plan that officials say will provide additional COVID-19 safety protocols to protect the health and safety of the campus community.

To learn more about TSU’s campus operation plans for fall reopening, visit