While the UVA Class of 2020 cannot celebrate traditional final exercises, University President James Ryan has outlined a tentative alternative for their graduation. An online commencement will take place on May 16, and a weekend in October has been set aside for the usual ceremony on the Lawn. If the coronavirus pandemic interferes again, yet another weekend is reserved in May 2021. The virtual conferring of degrees will allow affected students to graduate on time.
Ryan described the appeal of the October dates, which would allow those affected to walk across the Lawn in the same year as their official graduation.
“We are holding the weekend of Oct. 9-11, 2020, which coincides with fall reading days,” Ryan said. “Because we do not yet know whether it will be safe to have a large gathering in October, we are also holding May 28-30, 2021, as a backup, which is the weekend after the Class of 2021 will walk the Lawn.”
Due to remaining uncertainty about the duration of the pandemic, Ryan advised patience.
Per Ryan’s message, the University recommends “against making travel plans for October until we know more; we simply wanted you to know now the dates we are holding on our calendars so that you can hold them on yours. We will follow up with more definite information in June.”
As for the online graduation on May 16, 2020, it will mark the formal conclusion of the academic year. Ryan promised more information to come.
“We are planning something memorable to mark the occasion and will have more details to share soon,” he said. Recognizing students’ disappointment, he continued, “Graduation isn’t just a chance to walk the Lawn and get your diploma. It’s a time to say goodbye to your friends, to thank your families for the sacrifices they’ve made, to let your professors know how much you appreciate them, to have one more bagel, go on one more hike, and sing ‘The Good Old Song’ one more time. It’s an incredibly special moment — and one every graduate of the University should have a chance to experience.”
The proportion of graduates who would be able to travel for a rescheduled, in-person ceremony is unclear. However, Ryan expressed cautious optimism.
“While every class at UVA is special, yours is truly unique — and this year’s Final Exercises will be, too. I expect it will be one of the most joyful occasions the Lawn has ever seen, and a moment all of us will remember forever,” he said. “I hope to see you there.”
For more information on the University’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, click here.