Indiana University Northwest will hold its 43rd Annual Commencement on Thursday, May 14, 2009, beginning at 4 p.m. at the Gary Genesis Convention Center, located just off Broadway between 4th and 5th Avenues at One Genesis Center Plaza in Gary, Ind. The university will confer 827 degrees this year in a ceremony that will include only a slight change due to precautions against the H1N1 influenza strain. Students or guests who might be experiencing flu symptoms, however, are being asked not to attend in order to avoid risk of spreading the infection.
In a May 7 message to the IU Northwest campus, Chancellor Bruce Bergland affirmed that no cases of H1N1 had been reported at the university as of May 6. He applauded the proactive response of university staff and administration to the flu concerns, and he asked all members of the campus community to take practical hygienic measures to safeguard against infection.
With regard to IU Northwest’s Commencement, however, the Chancellor and Indiana University strongly encouraged students who are experiencing flu-like symptoms, or friends or family members who are suffering from those symptoms, not to attend the graduation ceremony. Such symptoms include: a fever greater than 100 degrees; a sore throat, headache, or cough; body aches and fatigue; and nausea or gastrointestinal distress. This does not apply to symptoms that are related to a known cause, such as headaches associated with migraines or coughing associated with asthma.
Chancellor Bergland explained that this policy, which has been adopted by other IU campuses, and which was recommended by the IU Northwest Crisis Management Team Pandemic Subcommittee, is intended to protect the health of campus community members, their families, and the public.
“I understand how important this day is to our graduates who have worked so hard to achieve this goal, as well as to the friends and relatives who have supported their efforts,” the Chancellor said. “Though it is not our desire to deny anyone this moment of celebration, it is imperative that we look to the common good and take all practical measures to safeguard our campus and the greater community against H1N1. I apologize to any of our IU Northwest students and families who will be impacted by this policy, and I hope they will understand and appreciate the spirit in which it was established.”
Regarding the Commencement ceremony itself, H1N1 precautions will cause only a slight change to IU Northwest’s traditional commencement exercises. In lieu of traditional handshakes with IU President Michael McRobbie and Chancellor Bergland, the two administrators will present the commemorative graduation scrolls to each graduate as he or she crosses the stage. Photographers will be on hand to memorialize the special event.
The IU Northwest graduation is open to the public and tickets are not required. Free parking will be available in the Chase parking garage and surrounding lots, and handicapped parking will be available adjacent to the Genesis Center. Parking areas will be marked with signage. The Gary Police Department will also be on hand to assist with traffic control.
Students and faculty are encouraged to arrive at the Genesis Center no later than 2 p.m. Graduation candidates should be robed and ready to assemble at 3 p.m.
Any guests who require special accommodations due to physical challenges or hearing or visual impairments are encouraged to arrive early. There will be reserved seating for hearing or visually impaired guests. Wheelchair-accessible seating will be available on a first-come, first-served basis in the Main Level Arena.
IU Northwest thanks all students, faculty and staff for their continued understanding and cooperation as the university seeks to maintain a healthy environment for all who learn and work here. For more information on the 43rd Annual Commencement, contact the Office of University Relations at (219) 980-6800. For the latest update on IU Northwest’s H1N1 precautions, visit the Web at http://www.iun.edu/emergency/index.htm