The University of Delaware’s Class of 2020 will have to wait until next year to celebrate its graduation with an official ceremony.
UD announced Monday that it will not hold a commencement later this year as originally hoped. Instead, the Class of 2020’s commencement – along with the smaller, degree-specific convocations – will be held in June 2021.
“I am sure you are disappointed to hear this news, but please be assured that we have every intention of making this celebration of your academic achievement at UD a special one for you in 2021,” UD President Dennis Assanis wrote in a letter to graduates.
The commencement and convocations are tentatively scheduled for between June 2 and June 4, which is immediately preceding Alumni Weekend, when many graduates traditionally return to campus for a party on The Green and other festivities. Still, Assanis warned that the events are “pending resolution of the pandemic situation.”
No other details were provided, but the Class of 2020 ceremonies are set for just a few days after the traditional annual commencement date, making it likely that officials will be able to use the same stages set up for the Class of 2021’s ceremonies.
“We look forward to welcoming you back to the UD campus next spring during a time that will be truly celebratory for our entire Blue Hen alumni community,” Assanis wrote. “Again, congratulations to you all – an exceptional class of graduates that is moving forward at an extraordinary time when the world needs compassionate leadership, inspired creativity, and unstoppable resilience to take on any challenge that comes your way.”
When the pandemic forced the closure of campus earlier this year, UD opted not to hold a virtual commencement as some schools did.
The university did hold a brief online live-stream on the day when commencement would have been held. However, officials were careful not to present it as a virtual commencement, instead referring to it as a “Blue Hen Celebration” that did not include any of the normal pageantry and traditions of a typical commencement.
UD previously told students it hoped to hold an in-person commencement later this year.
“Regrettably, we have now come to the realization that it will not be feasible with current state guidelines and public health guidance pertaining to large gatherings,” Assanis wrote Monday. “With graduates, families, friends, faculty, staff and administrators, a typical UD Commencement attracts some 20,000 people, while even the smallest convocations involve more than 250 people. Scheduling an event at this order of magnitude right now would be neither responsible nor allowable with the restrictions on travel and the size of gatherings.”