JONESBORO, Ark. (News Release) – The inaugural class of Arkansas’ first osteopathic medical school will celebrate its commencement ceremony through an online ceremony that will be held on Thursday, May 21 at 2 p.m., New York Institute of Technology College of Osteopathic Medicine at Arkansas State University announced Tuesday.
“We are incredibly disappointed that we will not be able to celebrate in person, but the venue of the ceremony does not in any way take away from the significance of the event,” said Shane Speights, DO, Dean of NYITCOM at Arkansas State. “We held out as long as possible before making this decision, but in light of our current global health situation, it just isn’t responsible or feasible to hold a large gathering on our campus. The staff and faculty are heartbroken that we won’t get to see the graduates in person and tell them how proud we are of them, but we will honor this special group of students in a manner that dignifies their tremendous achievements.”
NYITCOM at Arkansas State opened its doors in August of 2016, and its inaugural class will be recognized at the event as they receive their Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) degree. The virtual ceremony will take place at the same time NYITCOM’s in-person commencement and hooding was originally scheduled to occur. NYITCOM is planning to hold an in-person celebration for the Class of 2020 sometime in the spring of 2021.
The May 21 virtual commencement will include remarks from Hank Foley, PhD, President of New York Institute of Technology College; Jerry Balentine, DO, New York Institute of Technology College Vice President of Medical Affairs and Global Health; Barbara Ross-Lee, DO, Founding Dean of NYITCOM at Arkansas State; Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson and Speights, who has served as Dean of NYITCOM at Arkansas State since January of 2017.
“As I’ve said on many occasions, it takes a special group of students to commit to being part of the inaugural class of a new medical school,” Speights said. “These students deserve to be honored and celebrated effusively, and we will make sure they’re fully aware of how special they are to us and how significant their graduation is to the state of Arkansas and the entire Mississippi Delta region.”