Carson-Newman commencement

Randy Boyd will deliver the commencement address for Carson-Newman University.

JEFFERSON CITY — Carson-Newman University will celebrate May 2020 graduates with a virtual commencement ceremony at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 7.

This is a change from earlier plans to gather in person for the delayed ceremony. University administrators hoped to see improved circumstances related to the COVID-19 pandemic, but with case counts rising, the institution will move to a virtual-only format.

“We’ve made this decision with heavy hearts. There is an associated, potential higher risk with so many people traveling from within and without the immediate area into our small community,” University President Charles A. Fowler said. “We altered the schedule for our fall semester to avoid such back-and-forth travel, eliminating the fall break and shifting to an online format after Thanksgiving. With summer case counts rising, it is prudent that we make this change to our commencement ceremony as well.”

Randy Boyd, president of the University of Tennessee, will deliver the commencement address. Boyd was the architect for Tennessee Promise and Drive to 55 as well as founder and chairman of Tennessee Achieves — all initiatives aimed at increasing the number of Tennesseans with post-secondary degrees and decreasing financial hardship.

He is additionally the founder of Radio Systems Corp., a Knoxville-based business; chairman of Boyd Sports; owner of Tennessee Smokies, Johnson City Cardinals, Greeneville Red and Elizabethton Twins; former chairman of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission; former commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development; and a founder and past co-chair of the Governor’s Rural Taskforce.

To join the celebration, visit:

A recording of the ceremony will be available after the event for those unable to watch during the scheduled time.

As conciliation to these graduating students to whom COVID-19 has dealt such a devastating blow, the University will offer the opportunity for them to return to campus at staggered times, stand for pictures with Fowler while in their academic regalia and celebrate with the professors of their department. Graduating students will receive more information about these plans, which will include masks and physical distancing.

Founded in 1851, Carson-Newman is a Christian liberal arts-based university affiliated with the Tennessee Baptist Convention. The University is located in Jefferson City, Tennessee, among the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains and has over 2,700 students. Carson-Newman offers 50 undergraduate majors, as well as associate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees. The institution’s website is

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