LYNDON CENTER — Several dozen students at Northern Vermont University (NVU) were concerned that they would not have their graduation robes in time for this weekend’s virtual commencement celebrations, but the delay in the robes’ arrival has been resolved and they will be in hand for all the students by today, a university spokeswoman said on Thursday.
Supply chain problems due to the pandemic, and students ordering robes individually rather than in a group order, both were contributing factors to the delays, explained the spokeswoman.
Kate Henriques, who is a senior at NVU-Lyndon and has served as a member of the Student Government Association during her years at the campus, said this week, “I know all about this situation. It has been insanely frustrating for seniors at Lyndon. There has been neither organization nor communication.”
Students at both the Johnson and Lyndon campuses were affected.
Graduation robes are ordered through the company which operates a bookstore at the Johnson campus of NVU only; the company had decided some time ago to shutter the bookstore at the Lyndon campus of NVU.
“It is so sad that this has happened. From what I know, the company who runs the bookstores on both campuses decided that since Lyndon didn’t make as much money, they would close it and keep Johnson’s open,” explained Henriques on Wednesday. “Now we are forced to deal with them in any sort of bookstore dealings.”
She said, “A big issue was that the manager of the Johnson bookstore left and they were the person administrators were communicating with. This whole situation highlights the lack of control and communication issues that NVU has as a whole. It is insane how much money we had to pay and I may not even get my hood on time.”
Leah Hollenberger, the university development and external relations officer for Northern Vermont University said NVU learned that some students had not received their robes last Monday.
“NVU immediately began developing solutions for the students who were affected,” she said. By Thursday she was “happy to report that all of the students who were affected have had the problem resolved.”
Hollenberger said students typically order their robes through the bookstore and she said the pandemic has impacted the supply chain, leading to a 5-week turnaround to receive the regalia versus a typical two-week timeframe.
She said NVU used their network to get robes from other institutions and campuses and worked with the bookstore to “ensure that students got what they need.”
Hollenberger said the rest of the NVU robes that were still outstanding arrived on Thursday and were being overnighted to NVU.
A bookstore for NVU is at the campus in Johnson and students from both campuses are able to access the bookstore.
Hollenberger said the robe delay affected only “a handful of students.” She said the shipment arriving today was for 20 robes and NVU was “able to outfit 20 more through our network.”
The online commencement for Lyndon is this Sunday, May 16 at 11 a.m. Johnson’s is Saturday, May 15 at 11 a.m.