Many spring events will look a little different this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But in an attempt to keep long-honored Trevecca traditions alive, University officials announced an interesting twist to this year’s Commencement Convocation: goats.
With students learning remotely and only essential employees reporting to campus for the foreseeable future, University leaders made the decision to move forward with Commencement plans, just with goats rather than grads.
“Commencement is such a momentous occasion at Trevecca, full of pomp and circumstance,” said Dr. Dan Boone, president of Trevecca. “With so many administrators, faculty, staff and, of course, graduates unable to come to campus, we had to be creative when it came to adapting our Commencement celebration to a COVID-19 world.”
A “safer-at-home” order currently keeps most Trevecca officials from coming to campus, so Jason Adkins, director of the Trevecca Urban Farm, will stand in for Dr. Boone as well as Dr. Tom Middendorf, university provost, and other members of the administration, faculty and staff.
Goats from the Trevecca Urban Farm’s flock will don tiny caps and gowns to take part in the ceremony.
“This is Meelo,” Adkins said, holding a small bearded goat. “He’s graduating with a bachelor’s degree in business administration. And that goat over there?” Adkins continued, pointing at a white goat with black dots chewing on grass. “That’s Clover. She’s earning a Bachelor of Arts in English.”
Wendell, the Great Pyrenees dog that lives on the farm, will help herd the goats through the traditional Grand March procession under the Millard Reed Bell Tower and onto the Quad. Adkins will lead the procession, carrying the University mace.
Officials plan to hold the condensed ceremony outside. Out of concern that the goat graduates will eat them, no Commencement programs will be printed.
That concern, as it turns out, is warranted. In recent days, with fewer students on campus, the goats have taken to grazing in the Quad, strolling (and munching) through the library and even contributing to the current toilet paper shortage after breaking into a storage closet in Benson Hall in search of a snack.
Remarkably, this isn’t the first time a goat has crossed the stage at a Trevecca Commencement Convocation. In 2015, graduate Carlson Swafford brought a goat friend along for the ride when his degree was conferred.
In all seriousness, we’re still discussing the best way to honor our 2020 graduates and celebrate their achievements as a family. But we also know that laughter sometimes really is the best medicine. Happy April Fools’ Day!