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.
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:
- Each ceremony is capped at 250 graduates.
- Each graduate may bring 2 guests.
- The ceremonies will take place in Chaifetz Arena and will be live streamed for loved ones to view remotely.
- Colleges and schools will contact our graduates to inform them which ceremony they are invited to participate in, how to register to attend, how to register their guests and provide additional information about the ceremony. Registration is mandatory. Colleges and schools will send this information in the coming weeks.
- All ceremonies will be capped at 90 minutes.
- Graduates and guests will be required to wear masks, complete #CampusClear prior to the ceremony and keep a safe distance from others while in the Arena.
Format of the ceremonies:
- Each pre-commencement will follow a similar format, with an address from the Dean and a faculty member.
- Every graduate’s name will be read aloud for recognition.
- Graduates will not walk across the stage or shake hands. Instead, they will stand to be recognized on camera for those in-person and at home to see.
- Virtual students who choose not to attend the in-person ceremonies will also be recognized during the ceremony.
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:
- Baccalaureate Mass will have both in-person and livestream options for those interested. It will take place at 5 p.m. on May 16 at College Church. Registration is capped at 160 students for the in-person Mass. You can register here. (Note: Registration is only for students. We welcome family participation in Mass via the livestream, but want to accommodate as many students as possible.)
- Photos after the ceremony: We know that many graduates and their families like to take photos in and around the Arena after these ceremonies. Since we will have several ceremonies each day, we will ask you to leave the Arena promptly at the end so we can clean for the next ceremony. However, we encourage you to take advantage of our beautiful campus to take photos together to commemorate this special day.
- Caps and gowns, celebratory cords: you can order your cap and gown from the SLU bookstore. Please check out the Commencement website for more information. Information on cords will be provided by your individual school or college, or organizations that provide celebratory cords.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.