In-Person Commencement for BU Class of 2021 Planned for May 16, unless City Requires Virtual Ceremony
In-Person Commencement for BU Class of 2021 Planned for May 16, unless City Requires Virtual Ceremony
Class of 2020 will gather October 2 for virus-delayed ceremony: both will be for graduates only
Massachusetts and Boston COVID-19 rules permitting, BU will hold an in-person Commencement May 16 on Nickerson Field to celebrate the Class of 2021. State and city restrictions on gatherings will preclude graduates’ families, friends, and other guests from attending.
The University also announced that the Class of 2020’s Commencement, postponed last year in the pandemic’s early months, will be held on Nickerson Field October 2 at 6 pm, during Alumni Weekend, also without guests, pending state and city permissions. Both ceremonies were announced Thursday in emails sent to the two classes and the BU community from President Robert A. Brown. More information will be made available in the coming days on the Commencement website.
The University is asking members of the Class of 2021 to complete a brief survey about whether they plan to attend the May Commencement.
“Attendees will be limited to May 2021 or September 2021 graduating seniors and advanced degree recipients and a small platform party, including deans, administrators, and honorary degree recipients,” Brown wrote about the May ceremony. “Regrettably, we cannot offer the opportunity to invite family and friends. We are currently working on a plan to provide enhanced virtual access to the celebration so this important milestone in your life may be shared and enjoyed.”
The same virtual access will be provided for the 2020 graduates’ Commencement in October, the president wrote.
There is still a possibility that May’s Commencement will have to be conducted virtually, if the pandemic requires the city of Boston to maintain limits on outdoor gatherings.
“I need to offer the cautionary note that our planning is contingent on both the progress made in fighting COVID-19 and decisions made by city or state officials about public gatherings,” Brown wrote to the Class of 2021. “There have been enough ups and downs over the course of the past year to make all of us a bit guarded about what the future holds. We are moving forward in a spirit of optimism, but we are prepared to adjust our Commencement plans as needed. Our aim is to provide a Commencement that properly celebrates what you have accomplished.”
The in-person Commencements would be conducted under the University’s Back2BU COVID-19 protocols. Additionally, graduates studying remotely from off-campus locations and outside Massachusetts will have to comply with the protocols, as well as city and state travel guidelines for entering the commonwealth. A green badge will be required for participation in the May 16 in-person event on Nickerson Field.
As a component of the May all-University 2021 Commencement, plans are underway for an open-air Baccalaureate service on the Alpert Mall, near Marsh Chapel, the president wrote. That also will be “limited to graduating seniors and advanced degree recipients and a small group of deans and administrators,” following Back2BU protocols.
Individual BU schools and colleges will hold their convocations virtually, Brown said, and diplomas will be mailed to graduates rather than distributed on campus.
The president’s message to this year’s seniors noted that vaccinations against COVID-19 give him optimism as spring unfolds: “I am proud of how well our students have adjusted and adapted, sometimes on short notice, to remote and hybrid learning, to our testing and distancing protocols, and to the restrictions on cocurricular activities or the options for internships or study abroad. We recognize that the senior year for our undergraduate students has been very different from what they likely envisioned when they entered Boston University.”
The University originally hoped to hold the Class of 2020 Commencement in May as well. But when that plan was announced, “we were just learning of the scale and ferocity of the COVID-19 pandemic,” the president wrote Thursday to last year’s grads. “None of the early projections about the likely course of the disease proved reliable, and it not only lingered but, sometimes, seemed like a runaway train.”
The rescheduled October ceremony will include the awarding of honorary degrees to recipients announced at last May’s virtual Senior Breakfast, Brown wrote, among them the Commencement speaker, Victor Dzau, president of the National Academy of Medicine.
Has a decision been made about PhD holding ceremonies?
Disappointing. Completely understandable, but still so disappointing.
Has a decision been made about PhD hoodings?
So who will be the speaker inspiring our terriers after this challenging year? And why after all the testing can’t we manage to allow just one guest per student to sit far away in the stands with double masks so our students can feel the support they need and had to reach this special day? Surely there are ways to make this happen with a great deal of thought and preparation and funds if the state allowed.
After surviving cancer so far, this was all we were hoping for as a family to watch my son graduate from his beloved university.
Then as if to make this sting some more and pour salt on the wound, BU cannot manage to hand their students who paid $70,000+ to attend their actual diplomas? Instead they will be sent in the mail? What has that got to do with COVID safety? It’s pure laziness and insensitivity as if they received their education from a mail order catalog.
Find a way to hand our terriers their actual diplomas and offer them the respect and honor they have earned, President Brown and Dean Elmore!
There are plenty of students who would be happy to volunteer to help make this happen so please do not rob them of this joy as well.
I agree with you, Ms. Kellermann. Just today, the Boston Globe announced that Baker will allow theaters and sports venues to open at half capacity in “coming weeks.” As the parent of a 2020 BU graduate (or of a 2020 graduate in general), I know firsthand the heartache these young adults have experienced over the past year, having their senior spring yanked out from underneath of them, with virtual this and virtual that. Surely by October, it will be possible to hold a ceremony that could be safely attended by others? At least, hold the possibility open. I also wonder why the wait to October? Is it to make sure the cash cow that is the BU summer program can run with competing activity?
A gathering with just students is already a super spreader event and adding 1 guest per person would make it infinitely worse. Your sentiment is understandable but the safety of the everyone (including everyone in the city of Boston that would have to be in contact with city visitors, ie. hotel, restaurant staff, the general public, etc.) is far more important and this is coming from a 2020 graduate who didn’t have even the possibility of anything being in person.
Even with testing, double masking, and any other precautions (because not everyone would be following them anyway even if they were mandatory) the best way to prevent spreading the virus is to keep numbers low/not have gatherings at all.
Extremely happy for my graduating daughter. BU once again leads higher education in figuring out ways for students to have as close as “normal” college experiences during this once in a century pandemic. As I hear about many universities deciding to cancel again graduation ceremonies BU figures it out.
My daughter is extremely excited to be able to have a ceremony with her friends and classmates. Thank you President Brown and the entire BU community.
Super Spreader!! Why take the risk of further spreading the virus? In-person graduation is not essential…
With vaccines and safety protocols this is not a Super Spreader. We need to open our country and fear-mongering is not the way. These students deserve this and if you and your student are afraid to go then you have the freedom not to. Do not ruin it for others. We still have freedoms and still live in America. And it is not selfish to want a graduation in-person. What is selfish is you telling others what not to do. Stay in your house away from people and you will continue to be safe. Cheers.
Having graduated this past January in three in a half years, I would have taken part in the upcoming ceremony in May with the class of 2021 in any other year. That being said, I was genuinely saddened to see I cannot take part in this ceremony and will participate in a ceremony with the class of 2020 in October. I understand the need to limit capacity, but because I overloaded courses and worked to graduate early, I now no longer get the “traditional”, or at least as close to traditional, experience that my classmates will receive. Instead, I am now made to wait even longer to celebrate my graduation and participate in a ceremony for what I would consider the wrong class year among largely a group of strangers who began and ended their time at BU before me. I am immensely disappointed in this decision and am likewise struggling to identify how an October ceremony during friends and family weekend when the campus is the busiest it will be all year is in any way whatsoever a practical alternative to having simply held a separate ceremony in the Summer for a much more “traditional” graduation. I have absolutely no protests for precautions that are clearly taken with public safety in mind but, to me, offering a ceremony in May shows the university’s recognition that students value the “traditional” experience, and that they are confident they can safely offer it for this year’s graduates, so the decision to hold another in October is all the more callous and inconsiderate. I have looked forward to graduation since beginning at this school, and I simply cannot understand the logic behind the alternative ceremony in October and am genuinely saddened to watch my class graduate together in May while I am essentially left behind for having finished my degree a semester early.
I completely agree with you. I really wanted to walk with my friend who graduated this January and have been really excited that we would be in the same graduating class since I’ve known her. It would be nice if those who graduated January of 2021 would be able to walk with the class of 2021 instead of with the class of 2020 in October.
February 21, 2021: “With the first two months of class and activities complete we are still identifying a high number of students infected with COVID-19. While our natural tendency, visiting friends’ (who are outside of our household) rooms and apartments, traveling distances to vacation and go on outings, and engaging in, seemingly innocuous, close-quartered weekend coffees and dinners without wearing masks are all contributing to the spread of the virus within our communities.” (Dean Elmore)
February 25, 2021: “Massachusetts and Boston COVID-19 rules permitting, BU will hold an in-person Commencement May 16 on Nickerson Field to celebrate the Class of 2021. State and city restrictions on gatherings will preclude graduates’ families, friends, and other guests from attending.”
February 26, 2021: “The state has decided to prioritize mass vaccination centers, among other providers, and has halted distribution of the vaccine to all higher education institutions, including Boston University. As a result, we must suspend the University’s vaccination program for those who have not yet had their first shot.”
TBD: BU cancels in-person commencement.
Oh, it’s been nearly a year. How a students still not able to follow the rules!?
Follow Northeasterns lead. They are splitting up the Grad & Undergrad into 2 days with parents attending at Fenway park. Come on BU
Now that things have been lifted and a LOT of adults are vaccinated, perhaps we can allow parents who have been vaccinated and all they need to do is present their vaccination card/license. EASY!! Many local colleges to BU have the pleasure of graduating at Fenway. Could we change our date to a weekday to arrange family members to be a part of such a pivotal day for our students and have the ceremony at Fenway. They have worked so hard, come so far and deserve to have at least two loved ones alongside their recognition. The thought of dropping my son off and picking him up after graduation is heart wrenching for me not to finally see such a wonderful achievement on many levels. Praying on behalf of all BU 2021 graduates at least TWO family members an attend. PLEASE PLEASE consider!!