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Students studying away from campus will be allowed to attend virtually or in person.
In the face of an expected lack of global availability of COVID-19 vaccines and continued travel restrictions, Dartmouth plans to hold an on-campus ceremony, but one limited to graduating students. The early-June event for the Class of 2021 will allow graduating seniors and graduate and professional school graduates to celebrate on campus, with family and friends able to view the ceremony online, President Philip J. Hanlon '77 said today in an email to the campus community.
The hoped-for on-campus celebration for the Class of 2020, whose graduation ceremony was held online last June, will not be possible, nor will on-campus summer reunion events, said President Hanlon.
"None of these decisions come without heartbreak—for our students and their families, for our alumni, and for those of us in senior leadership who are faced with having to make them," he said, noting that commencement and the reunions are "two of our most cherished Dartmouth traditions."
"But it is our collective resolve to prioritize the health and safety of our community and our belief in the enduring nature of the Dartmouth fellowship that continues to strengthen our bonds, even in the midst of distance and disappointment," he said.
Graduating students who are studying away from campus will be allowed to attend the ceremony virtually or in person, provided they meet testing and quarantine requirements prior to their participation if they choose the in-person option. The on-campus event is planned for the week of June 6, following the end of the undergraduate final exam period.
Most of the undergraduate members of the Class of 2021 are expected to be in residence on campus for spring term and being tested twice-weekly for the virus, leading planners to believe that Dartmouth can safely host the graduation event.
"While this plan can and may change, we remain hopeful that we will be able to make this happen for all our graduates," Hanlon said. Graduate and professional school deans will inform their graduates about plans for investiture ceremonies.
Final decisions on the June dates are expected to be made by the end of March. Up-to-date information will be available on the commencement website.
In the months ahead, Alumni Relations will reach out to members of the Class of 2020 to begin planning a celebration to be held sometime in the future, Cheryl Bascomb '82, vice president of Alumni Relations, and Hanlon told class members in an email sent today.
"Every one of you has earned the chance to celebrate your graduation with one another in the place that you love, here on the Hanover Plain. Rest assured, that chance will come, just later than we'd planned," said Bascomb.
For the most recent information on Dartmouth's response to the pandemic, visit the Dartmouth Together COVID-19 website.
Susan Boutwell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.