Greenville, N.C. — East Carolina University’s outdoor commencement ceremony was canceled Friday due to severe weather, according to an alert sent out by the university.

Individual college, school and departmental ceremonies will be held as planned over the weekend.

“We are very disappointed we could not move forward with commencement, but severe weather including lightning as late as 9:15 a.m. made holding the ceremony outside a safety concern,” a university spokesperson said in a release.

“Unfortunately, Minges Coliseum is not large enough to accommodate the 5,500 graduates and their guests for spring commencement.”

ECU Chancellor Cecil Stanton and UNC President Margaret Spellings released a video explaining the cancellation and wishing the Class of 2017 well.

“This decision was not made lightly,” Stanton said in the video.

Commencement programs will be handed out during the individual ceremonies and available for graduates at the Dowdy Student Store.

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