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University announces class of 2020 in-person Commencement

Ceremony to be held this fall or during Memorial Day Weekend 2022

The University will host a delayed in-person Commencement ceremony for the class of 2020 either this fall, in either September or October 2021 or over Memorial Day weekend in May 2022, according to an email from President Christina Paxson P’19 to members of the class of 2020.

The announcement follows the hybrid class of 2021 Commencement on May 2, for which the University hosted two separate, back-to-back ceremonies to celebrate graduating seniors and midyear students. Paxson wrote that it was her “sincere hope” that the class of 2020 could have been included in the May ceremony — as the original plan announced last year — but state public health measures, which limited gathering sizes, made plans for a double Commencement unfeasible.

Last March, the University postponed the ceremony for the class of 2020 at the onset of the pandemic and held a Virtual Degree Conferral in its place. 

A survey will be sent to the members of the class of 2020 to determine whether there is more interest in holding the ceremony on a weekend sometime between late September and mid-October of this year or during Memorial Day weekend next year.

No matter the date, the ceremony will include Commencement traditions such as alumni speakers, senior orations and the opportunity for graduates to walk through the Van Wickle Gates. The University also announced that they expect health conditions will permit each student to have a “few guests ... attend the ceremony in-person.”

If the fall date garners more interest, the administration would encourage graduates to plan activities such as “concerts, parties and opportunities to reconnect with faculty and other Brown employees” who would be part of the festivities, contingent on an improvement in public health conditions, Paxson wrote.

A Memorial Day Commencement would alternatively offer graduates the chance to participate in traditions such as “the full Commencement procession through the Van Wickle Gates” and Campus Dance, which are “impossible to replicate at other times,” Paxson wrote.

Additionally, Alumni relations will run regional in-person and virtual events during the 2021-2022 academic year solely for the class of 2020, Paxson announced. 

Correction: A previous version of this article stated that the University held an online Commencement for the class of 2020 in March of last year. In fact, the ceremony was a Virtual Degree Conferral. The Herald regrets the error. 


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