I’m writing to update you on plans for the university’s Commencement ceremonies. As you can imagine, planning for Commencement this year is extremely challenging. Uncertain public health conditions, shifting state and local guidelines about public gatherings, and changing travel restrictions force us to decide how to hold Commencement without knowing what the situation will be like—and what the Commonwealth of Massachusetts will permit—on May 23.
As you may be aware, there are two major components to the Tufts University Commencement:
The largest event is the university-wide ceremony, which is inclusive of the graduates of all schools. This ceremony includes the Commencement address as well as the granting of honorary degrees. No individual students are recognized at this event.
The university-wide ceremony is followed by school-specific ceremonies. These are the ceremonies at which individual graduates are recognized.
Over the past several months, the Commencement planning committee, which includes student representatives, has been meeting to determine the best path forward for the university-wide Commencement ceremony. Similar planning about the school-specific ceremonies has been under way at each of our schools. This planning has involved close coordination with the university medical and public health experts and, for the undergraduate community, has been informed by student surveys.
As much as we would like to host the university-wide ceremony event in person on the academic quad, we know it is not realistic to expect to gather the nearly 2,000 graduates let alone an additional 8,000 guests that attend that ceremony each year. Therefore, the university-wide ceremony will be held virtually this year. We know this will come as a disappointment, but it is in keeping with our commitment to protecting the health and safety of our community. Although we will be unable to gather as a university in person to celebrate the Class of 2021, we know this online ceremony—including a tremendous Commencement speaker to be announced soon—will inspire pride in all members of our community.
For the school-specific ceremonies, each of our schools is working diligently to find a solution appropriate for their communities. We know it is extremely unlikely that public health guidelines will permit families to attend. However, some schools hope that circumstances will permit modified ceremonies that would allow in person attendance by our graduates themselves. More information about each school’s current planning, including information regarding plans for a Class of 2020 celebration, if applicable, will be shared with students as soon as possible.
To the Class of 2021 – You have led us in the classrooms, studios, clinics, and laboratories; you have achieved acclaim on sports fields and on the stage; and this year you have taken on the additional responsibility of strengthening community health by wearing masks, participating in surveillance testing, and reimagining student events and traditions. You are the best of Tufts, and you deserve to be celebrated. I look forward to doing so throughout the rest of this semester and, in particular, on May 23.