MTSU’s Aug. 8 grads will join historic Class of ’20 at university’s 2nd virtual commencement

Aug 03, 2020 at 09:44 am by WGNS

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — Many of MTSU's anticipated 795 summer 2020 graduates began picking up their regalia Friday to prepare for at-home celebrations on Saturday, Aug. 8, during the university's second virtual commencement ceremony. 

University President Sidney A. McPhee announced in June that MTSU would again mark 2020 graduates' accomplishments with an online ceremony, following the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendations against large public gatherings.   

The summer livestreamed event will begin at 10 a.m. Aug. 8 at on MTSU’s Facebook page and YouTube channel. Both will be accessible at  

All the graduates’ names, along with academic honors and special recognition, will be included in an on-screen running scroll during the ceremony. 

Each of the summer 2020 graduates can pick up a “True Blue Graduation Box” through Friday, Aug. 7, at Phillips Bookstore.  

The box will include the graduate’s MTSU diploma cover, a mortarboard with a unique blue 2020 tassel, special MTSU gifts, two commemorative programs plus an invitation to a future on-campus commencement, and the graduate's appropriate Latin Honors and/or University Honors College regalia and master’s or doctoral degree hood. 

Free graduation gowns also will be available at the bookstore with the graduates' boxes. Students who can't pick up their boxes in person can receive them by mail, and each box will include a link to order a graduation gown. 

Diplomas will be mailed to each graduate in late August. More details for graduates are available at

On Aug. 8, after words of encouragement from McPhee and University Provost Mark Byrnes and other guests, MTSU School of Agriculture associate professor Justin Gardner will serve as the summer ceremony’s guest speaker.  

His address continues the university’s tradition of offering the graduates a salute from their professors, represented by the year’s departing MTSU Faculty Senate president. 

Gardner, who earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Tennessee and his doctorate in agricultural and consumer economics from the University of Illinois, joined the MTSU faculty in 2007 to teach agribusiness. His courses include agricultural finance, international trade, economics, commodity futures markets, cooperatives, agribusiness management, and value-added agriculture.  

His research interests range from the economic and environmental impacts of genetically modified crops to agricultural cooperatives and farmers’ markets. This past year has offered an unexpected opportunity for more thorough study of one of his favorite research subjects: student success in online classes. 

MTSU awarded its 150,000th degree during its spring 2020 commencement, which marked the university’s first virtual ceremony. Since its inaugural 1911-12 academic year, MTSU has presented 150,163 students with bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees. 

Like all MTSU commencements, the summer 2020 ceremony is accessible to the public at no charge. The university will provide closed-captioning services during the virtual event. 

“We’ll never forget our class of summer 2020 graduates,” McPhee said. “They’ve endured a true crisis to cross this educational finish line. They missed out on triumphant shared experiences like receiving well-deserved congratulations from a trusted professor at the end of a final course, or a hug from a longtime classmate or, perhaps most poignantly, the formal ceremony to commemorate their achievement.  

“This was to be their time to shine in front of everyone. … They did more than complete their education online; they helped us all survive and flourish amidst a crisis. We’ll salute them as the special group of individuals that they are, who … crossed this finish line with grace and composure.” 

More information about the Aug. 8 ceremony is available at  

The university Registrar’s Office reports that the summer 2020 group comprises 795 prospective graduates, including 570 undergraduates and 225 graduate students. The latter number includes 202 master’s candidates, 11 education-specialist degree recipients and 12 doctoral candidates. Five graduate students also will receive certificates. 

Updated MTSU graduation information — including links to the Registrar’s Office — is available anytime at

MTSU will begin its 2020-21 academic year on Monday, Aug. 24, when fall 2020 classes begin.  

The semester will be a mix of remote-learning, online, in-person and hybrid courses, and classes will end Nov. 25. Masks will be required in all indoor public settings.  

For status updates on MTSU, visit  

Sections: News