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Modified in-person Commencement to take place, expanded to include class of 2021.5

Commencement divided into two ceremonies to limit capacity, plans approved by state

The University will hold Commencement in-person through two ceremonies and will open the event to students graduating mid-year in 2021.5, according to an email sent to the class of 2021 and 2021.5 April 8. 

The decision to divide Commencement into a morning and afternoon ceremony is in response to state public health regulations that prohibit in-person events of more than 1000 attendees, the email stated. Rhode Island has approved the modified in-person Commencement to take place on May 2. 

Graduating students will have the option to choose which ceremony to register for. This will allow students to “be with their friends” and walk through the Van Wickle Gates together, Executive Vice President for Planning and Policy Russell Carey ’91 MA’06 told The Herald April 8. 

Students graduating as part of the class of 2021.5 will also be able to attend a ceremony of their choice. “Originally we weren’t expecting to be able to include (them) because of the total number of students that we can accommodate on the (Main) Green in a socially distant way,” Carey said. With attendees divided in half, students graduating mid-year will be able to join undergraduates from the class of 2021, as well as class of 2020.5 students, for Commencement. 

The ceremonies will take place May 2 at 10 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. and feature identical programs. Two orators from the senior class are expected to speak at the ceremonies, Carey said. 

Students who are currently remote will be provided further information on how to participate in the ceremonies.

“It's not ideal, … obviously we prefer to have the whole class together,” Carey said. But “we think this is a good option, and (with) the additional benefit of including the 21.5 (students), I think we were very pleased to be able to do that.” 



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