Commencement Updates for Classes of 2020 and 2021

Dear Members of the Syracuse University Community:

I write today to update you on our planning for Commencement for the classes of 2021 and 2020. As detailed below, our current planning recognizes generally improving public health conditions and growing access to vaccines. Still, public health officials caution vigilance and concern over highly infectious variants of the virus. Further, we are bound to follow all New York State health directives.  These trends and concerns are guiding our current thinking and planning.

Class of 2021

Commencement: The University will host in-person Commencement activities for graduates the weekend of May 22 and 23. We will do everything possible to make this year’s celebration special for our graduates. However, this year’s activities will be different than years past. For example, depending on occupancy guidelines, we may host more than one ceremony to accommodate all our graduates. Many of these details are still being worked out and remain contingent on state directives.

Convocations: All school and college convocations will be hosted virtually this year. The planning group is working with the deans of each school and college to create meaningful virtual convocations. All will be livestreamed.

Graduate Hooding Ceremony/ROTC Commissioning: Both the Graduate Hooding Ceremony and the ROTC Commissioning event will be held in-person for participants. These events will also be livestreamed for virtual participation.

Other Events and Activities: Other Commencement-related activities, such as departmental recognitions, honor society events, etc., will be held virtually.

Guest Attendance: At this time, it is unclear if guests will be allowed to attend Commencement activities. We hope to receive guidance from the New York State Department of Health soon. We will provide clarity regarding guest attendance as soon as we have more information, so that families can plan accordingly. Regardless of the state’s guidance on guests, Commencement will take place for students on campus and will be livestreamed so all families, friends and loved ones can watch the ceremony.

Class of 2020

Last year, at the onset of the pandemic, the University was forced to postpone all in-person Commencement activities for the Class of 2020. Subject to continued improvement in public health conditions and relaxation of government restrictions, Syracuse University will host Commencement for the Class of 2020 on Sunday, Sept. 19. Graduates will receive more information about the weekend’s activities as our planning progresses. In a survey conducted last year, our Class of 2020 graduates were clear that they wanted a traditional and robust in-person celebration in the stadium with their family members, friends and loved ones in attendance. The University will keep its promise to our graduates.

Rest assured that there is nothing Syracuse University wants more than to celebrate our graduates with all the pomp and circumstance they deserve. That’s what we plan for.  That’s what we hope for. And that’s what we intend to do.

I appreciate your continued patience as we navigate these challenging circumstances.


Chancellor Kent Syverud