WSSU students upset about doctoral pinning ceremony

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- The first doctoral graduation class from Winston-Salem State University said they're "disappointed" they won't be able to wear their academic regalia at Friday's ceremony for the completion of the program.

The 24 physical therapy doctoral students are a part of WSSU's first doctorate program in the health and sciences department and in the entire institution.

Student Clint Serafino said in July they were notified of a traditional ceremony following the program’s completion. On Wednesday, Serafino said they were told they would have to wait until May to wear any of their regalia at all.

"We're not trying to say that we deserve something special, we're trying to say as a doctorate program, these other programs get to be hooded in a way that is ceremonious and celebratory and that's not happening to us," Serafino said."

Serafino said Dean Valentine and other program faculty and staff have been supportive however the issue arises with the miscommunication from upper administration.

"I don't at all feel ill prepared to enter the work force after my time here at WSSU," Serafino said. "Unfortunately, from an overall institution university perspective, I feel that the lack of integrity to say one thing and do another, that's definitely something I didn't sign up for to be student at WSSU."

Friday at 10 a.m., the students will take part in a pinning ceremony acknowledging their degree completion. They’re encouraged to return in May for the official hooded ceremony amongst all graduates.

Chancellor Reaves was on medical leave but released this e-mail statement on the matter:

"Recognition of doctoral students by way of the hooding ceremony is very important, to both the student and to the University. From the perspective of the University it is important that graduates who earn doctoral degrees be showcased. The hooding exercise at the commencement, the University's single largest annual academic gathering, accomplishes that goal. Hooding students at some small gathering that only recognizes graduates from one school does not provide the students with the recognition that they deserve and does not afford the university the opportunity to put its highest level graduates front and center.

Moreover, these are not the only students who finish their degrees at mid-year. Others do so as well, and none of them participate in exercises that involve academic regalia.

WSSU has one commencement per year and that is in the spring. That has been the case since the 2010 commencement. I cannot underscore the importance of the annual commencement, and all students are encouraged to participate. "

Winston-Salem State University has offered to refund the rental fee for the academic regalia attire.
Serafino said collectively the students paid $3,000.


  • Jessica Jordan

    My sister has worked way to hard and has waited long enough and so has her classmates they deserve to wear their cap and gowns and be awarded for their hard work and not have to wait til may! Thats so STUPID!!!!!!

      • Renee

        You obviously have no idea how hard these students have worked and how much of a disappointment it is for them to not receive the ceremony they were promised on the date it was promised. I agree with JT’s comment above.

  • Ruth

    This is a shame and disgrace! These students were told that they would be wearing cap and gowns and would be hooded at this ceremony! You would think that WSSU would be very proud of their first doctoral class and give them the accolades due them. This is a terrible reflection on WSSU. I seriously doubt that any of these students would even consider coming back to be hooded in May.

  • Anne

    Families have flown across country, taken off work, etc. to see them hooded. It was communicated to all parties involved that they would be hooded in December. These are very intelligent students who would not indiscriminately invite friends, families, pay for regalia without just cause. It is a highly intensive full-time program. Yes, it is very important to them NOW. If you do not know anything about it, I am not sure you should be writing comments.

  • Ruth

    My daughter is one of the 24 PT doctoral students mentioned in this article. Instead of being happy and excited about graduation, the past 2 days have been filled with stress and anxiety, all because the top administration renigged on the hooding ceremony that had been planned for months. I am happy to say that graduation this morning went wonderfully! The students took it upon themselves to wear their gowns (without permission) and to hood themselves(without permission) after being pinned and saying their pledge. The audience roared with applause and they received a standing ovation! I am pleased they were able to receive recognition after 3 years of hard work!

  • Anne

    It was a meaningful event and the audience did applaud the PT grads. Everyone was respectful and honored all of the SOHS grads.

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