Schapiro: In-person graduation ceremonies to be held next June


Daily file photo by Caty Buchaniec

With the COVID-19 pandemic stabilizing, some graduating seniors said they are still finding ways to celebrate accomplishments.

James Pollard, Campus Editor

In addition to the virtual commencement ceremony to be held June 19, 2020, Northwestern will host in-person graduation ceremonies for the Class of 2020 in June 2021, according to a Friday email announcement from University President Morton Schapiro.

On April 22, the University announced this year’s commencement ceremonies had been moved online, with graduation occurring on June 19 at 9:30 a.m. CST. Schapiro announced Friday that the graduation time had been changed to 11 a.m. CST, “to accommodate those students on the West Coast.”

“I realize that some of you will have obligations next spring that might make it difficult to attend the in-person graduation event, and others may find it difficult to travel at that time, especially those living overseas,” Schapiro said. “That is why we intend to make this virtual ceremony every bit as rich and meaningful as possible.”

The announcement of a future in-person graduation event comes after over 3,500 students signed a petition demanding the University make a firm commitment to holding a ceremony when safe to do so. Schapiro’s April 22 announcement only promised “the expectation of holding a campus event to salute our graduates in the future.”

Citing public-health experts who suggest it might be a while before large-scale public gatherings are safe, Schapiro said “the most responsible way” to hold a top-notch ceremony will be to schedule it close to next year’s graduation ceremonies. The University anticipates holding it Saturday, June 12, 2021, but said it will confirm a date when public-health guidance is clear.

Graduating students were directed to the University’s commencement page, where they can order their own regalia, provided by Northwestern for free this year. Diplomas and honor cords, the email said, will be delivered to students’ home addresses after commencement.

Honorary degrees will be given to “trailblazers in a number of fields,” the email said, including Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, the commencement speaker.

“I look forward to sharing these graduation experiences with you,” Schapiro said. “I hope that this once-in-a-lifetime moment will be a twice-in-a-lifetime one.”

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @pamesjollard

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