2020 Commencement Moved to Spring 2021


President Brian Casey announced the cancellation of the May 17 commencement ceremony in a video addressed to the class of 2020 and their families this morning. Recording from the Colgate Memorial Chapel, Casey explained that the May 17 date would be commemorated with a digital celebration and that the class of 2020 will return to campus for a commencement weekend on May 22 and 23 2021. This is to follow the class of 2021’s commencement weekend taking place on May 15 and 16. This decision comes ahead of April 15, the original date set for the University to announce changes to 2020 commencement plans. 

“As much as we wanted to have commencement this year on its normally scheduled date, we simply can’t,” Casey said in the video.

The University commencement web page explains the reasoning for scheduling the make-up commencement in May 2021.

“We wanted to pick a time that would allow for the most number of students and their family members to attend. At this time, we cannot be certain that the travel and social distancing rules will be fully lifted by June and July. August presents its own problems. Should the economy and travel be back to normal by August, many graduates will be moving to new cities to start their jobs, while other classmates will be starting graduate school and fellowships. Once the regular school year resumes, we will not have enough rooms to house all graduates and their families. A weekend in May provides a real opportunity for many families to sufficiently plan for a return to campus, with enough rooms to house the graduates and their guests,” the page says. 

Updated information regarding changes to commencement traditions is available in the Question and Answer section of the University’s commencement web page. According to the site, graduating seniors will be conferred their degrees on May 17, as expected, and physical diplomas will be mailed as soon as the Office of the Registrar processes final grades. Awards and academic honors will still be bestowed this year, the site says. Caps, gowns and tassels should be ordered and mailed to students’ home addresses and senior class ‘C’ sweatshirts will be mailed to students.

Casey said these adjusted celebrations were planned in coordination with student leadership, including the Konosioni Senior Honor Society and senior class officers. According to Casey, these and other student leaders will work in with the Commencement Executive Committee to plan the two celebrations.

The University ensures that the class of 2020 will still have a traditional Torchlight Ceremony on a lit Willow Path next May and will be able to keep their torches after the ceremony. There is no information as of press time on what the make-up commencement ceremony will entail. The one piece of information offered by the University site is: “There will be a ceremony that will be designed by the Planning Committee.” There is no mention of whether this delayed commencement will have a speaker; former U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power was scheduled to speak at the now-cancelled May 17 commencement. 

Current seniors are left to process the emotion of a delayed commencement in quarantine. 

“It sucks but at least they’re trying,” senior Eliza Lucas said. 

Casey reflected on his own emotional investment in the class of 2020’s commencement in his video announcement.

“You’re my class. I arrived on this campus just a few weeks before you did in the summer of 2016, and you’ve always been important to me. We’ve been through a whole lot together,” Casey said. “I need to be with you to celebrate.”