May 20, 2024

Up Front - The Publisher's Column

The Right Direction

David Denor | 5/26/2021

Since this is our annual higher education issue, I thought it would be appropriate to share my recent experience with one of Florida’s universities. As you may recall, my wife, Jessica, and I have four children — one who graduated years ago, two still enrolled at Florida Gulf Coast University and a daughter who just graduated from FGCU.

Given the pandemic, we were not sure whether our daughter would get to experience a traditional graduation ceremony. However, we were thrilled to find out late this spring that FGCU would offer a hybrid ceremony that followed CDC guidelines.

The experience was quite enjoyable. Graduates received the recognition they deserved, and the ceremony was intimate and pleasant.

The hybrid model spread the ceremony out over two days (Saturday and Sunday). The various colleges were scheduled for different times. My daughter’s college, public health, graduated Sunday at 3 p.m.

We arrived at the auditorium, checked in and waited in a socially distanced line. (There were photo opportunity stations as you waited your turn.) As graduates walked up the stage to receive their diplomas, family and friends were ushered to the front of the stage. Once offstage, graduates watched a 10-second video address from the university’s president congratulating them on their accomplishment. Everyone was then given an opportunity for additional photo opportunities before the ceremony ended. From beginning to end, the whole experience lasted about 30 minutes total — efficient, thoughtful and memorable.

Given how successful this hybrid model was, it’s impossible not to wonder whether some of these new protocols might become standard operating procedures in the future. Either way, we were happy to see things moving in the right direction and graduates being able to celebrate their special day with family and friends.

Check out our package of highered features. Amy Keller writes about how the Chinese government has basically bribed U.S. researchers — including several in Florida — for work funded by American taxpayers. In another piece, Amy looks at how lawmakers are trying to balance Florida’s sunshine laws with the hiring process for university presidents.

The section includes profiles on new and retiring university presidents.

Don’t miss this month’s custom content community portrait spotlighting Southwest Florida. Learn about all the economic development taking place in Charlotte, Collier, Glades, Hendry and Lee counties, making for a highly sought after region in which to live, work and play.

As we continue to move beyond the pandemic, I look forward to all of us getting back to more normal business operations.

— David Denor, Publisher


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