HACKETTSTOWN — The Class of 2020 at Centenary University will still wear their caps and gowns, and most importantly, will have their diploma in hand, but this year’s May commencement ceremony will be slightly different.


The private, four-year institution in Hackettstown will turn to what has become the norm during the coronavirus pandemic and host their 145th commencement ceremony virtually, according to a release from the university on Monday.


In 2019, the university, which holds the annual event under a large tent on Anderson Field, awarded 505 graduates with degrees.


Graduation is slated to take place at 11 a.m. on Saturday, May 11. Fred Mangione, senior vice president of sales and marketing for the New York Jets, will deliver the keynote speech. A Jefferson Township native, Mangione was a 1993 graduate of Centenary, and prior to working with the Jets, was the chief operating officer for the Brooklyn Nets.


Bruce Murphy, university president, announced in a video message that he will still be virtually awarding the degrees. Caps, gowns and diplomas can either be picked up outside the university's President’s House or mailed to each recipient.


He noted he wanted to continue with the May 9 graduation because it was a date that graduates “have been planning for many years and thinking a lot about.”


Once restrictions are lifted following the COVID-19 pandemic, Murphy pledged in his message to host the Class of 2020 on campus for a celebratory event. If a recipient would like to, they will be allowed to walk in the 2021 commencement ceremony.


Centenary’s virtual graduation will also include speeches by the class valedictorian, transfer valedictorian and an advanced degree recipients.


With state restrictions on large gatherings remaining in place, several other local colleges have either postponed, canceled or moved their graduations to an online format.


Sussex County Community College announced earlier this month that the 33rd commencement ceremony, slated for May 13, was canceled. All eligible graduates will be invited to participate in the May 2021 ceremony. There has not been any additional word on the possibility of a virtual graduation.


In March, the County College of Morris announced that they will not be hosting graduation this year, but assured the graduates that they will still receive their diplomas.


Lori Comstock can also be reached on Twitter: @LoriComstockNJH, on Facebook: www.Facebook.com/LoriComstockNJH or by phone: 973-383-1194.