Plans for Commencement 2021

February 25, 2021

Dear Prospective May 2021 Graduates and Families,

We have begun the spring 2021 semester with signs of hope after the protracted disruption and uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic. 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.

I am hopeful because the vaccines developed to protect against COVID-19 are now being dispensed nationwide. We are still dealing with a very constrained supply of vaccine from the state. Our assessment is that as the vaccine becomes more widely available in Massachusetts, in combination with other measures already in place, it will begin to put the brakes on the spread of the virus.

I am writing to tell you and our BU community our plans for Commencement events this May.

We are now planning to hold a live (i.e., in-person) Commencement ceremony for those who are eligible to graduate in May 2021 or September 2021, as determined by their school or college. The ceremony will be held at Nickerson Field on Sunday, May 16, and will be conducted with our Back2BU health protocols in place and in accord with state and local travel policies. Your ability to attend may be affected by state and local travel policies. 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. 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.

In addition to the Nickerson Field ceremony, we are planning to hold an open-air Baccalaureate service on the Alpert Mall (next to Marsh Chapel). Again, this will be conducted in accord with our Back2BU protocols, and attendance will be limited to graduating seniors and advanced degree recipients and a small group of deans and administrators.

Individual schools and colleges will offer virtual convocations.

Diplomas for all graduating students will be mailed rather than distributed locally.

We will be providing additional details in BU Today as we move forward. 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. 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.

Boston University has weathered the COVID-19 pandemic admirably because of the hard work of our frontline staff and our resilient students and faculty. While I would have wished for you a different conclusion to your higher education experience, I believe you will find in coming years that some of what you endured is instructive and fortifying.

Stay safe and well.

Robert A. Brown signature
Robert A. Brown