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Commencement Update (December 2020 & May 2021 Graduates)

March 26, 2021 

Dear SLU community members, 

I am pleased to announce that SLU will host in-person pre-commencement ceremonies for the graduating classes of December 2020 and May 2021. Information on celebrations for the class of May 2020 will be shared with those graduates and parents directly. 

Before I share more details about what this will look like, I want to speak to the frustration that families, students and graduates are feeling for the delay in this decision. Frankly, we were prepared to announce a completely virtual celebration just a few weeks ago. The COVID-19 challenges were significant and vaccine rollout was slow. Simply put, it did not feel like there was a path forward. 

In just a few short weeks, we were able to turn a corner, develop a plan and get the plan approved by the St. Louis Health Department. I am grateful to the staff and student leaders who helped make this possible. 

Pre-commencement ceremonies 

We expect to have up to 17 pre-commencement ceremonies during the week of May 17. Some colleges and schools will have more than one ceremony to account for the number of graduates.  

Key items to note:

Format of the ceremonies:

The main commencement ceremony 

We will hold the main commencement ceremony as a virtual event. We look forward to the other side of this pandemic when we can fill the Arena with the thousands upon thousands of loved ones as we typically do for this event, but that time is not now. 

The pre-recorded, virtual ceremony will be released at 2 p.m. on Sunday, May 23. It will be posted online and shared with you that day via email and all of SLU’s social media platforms. It will feature a presidential address, honorary degree recipients and the traditions that we hold so dear. 

Other traditions around commencement 

There are countless treasured traditions tied to commencement that we are still working on. Here is what we know at this time about a few of them: 

What about the class of May 2020? 

A message to our May 2020 graduates went out this morning, surveying them on possible weekend dates this fall to celebrate their accomplishments. We are eager to finalize those details so that class and those who know and love them can celebrate their achievements.  


Additional information will be provided by the schools and colleges, or shared from my office or the office of the Provost in the coming weeks. In the meantime, please contact provost@slu.edu with any questions or concerns. 

I appreciate your patience and understanding as we worked on making these in-person ceremonies a reality. I know it doesn’t look like normal years, but we are working to make these ceremonies as memorable as we can for our graduates and their families. 

We are OneSLU. 

Fred P Pestello, Ph.D.
President