2020 FAQs

When is Bates Commencement 2020?

The 154th Commencement of Bates College is at noon, Eastern Daylight Time, May 31, 2020. The ceremony will be conducted remotely via livestream.

How can I watch the livestream?

The livestream will be public — any friends and family members will be able to watch.

The two locations will afford the same viewer experience.

What time will the livestream begin?

The livestream premiere is scheduled for noon, Eastern Daylight Time, on May 31. The complete video will be available for replay immediately afterward. To convert Eastern Daylight Time to local time, try this time converter.

Will I experience connectivity issues, as I do with video conferencing?

Bates has streamed our past Commencements through the Facebook platform, and it’s proven reliable and accessible. There still could be hiccups based on internet speed and signal strength.

Will Commencement actually be “live”?

To deliver the best possible experience, much of the Commencement livestream will be prepared ahead of time. We will include some real-time content.

How can families and loved ones participate in the livestream?

Our goal is to use all elements of social media to help families and loved ones join this virtual event. The event will be hosted by Facebook, allowing audience members to share in real-time their congratulations and shout-outs.

Leading up to Commencement, family members and loved ones can contribute a sentiment to the seniors, and it will, within the hour, appear on the #Bates2020 aggregation page:  https://www.bates.edu/commencement/well-wishes/

Will the ceremony be accessible to viewers with disabilities?

As with all Bates programming, we are committed to providing an accessible and inclusive commencement experience for students and their loved ones. While access considerations have been an important part of the planning process, we know that we may not be able to anticipate every potential barrier or need ahead.

If you anticipate barriers or would like to request an accommodation related to any of the planned programs, activities, or materials, please reach out to Brenda Pelletier, associate director of conferences and campus events, bpelleti@bates.edu, 207-786-6400.

What will the Commencement ceremony programming look like?

We will try to take the elements of a traditional Commencement and convey them remotely. The order of events is posted here.

We will share greetings and speeches. We will share images and videos of the campus, as well as the sounds of campus — the Hathorn bells — to help evoke the feel of the campus that we love.

We will visually present each senior, one by one as in a traditional event, with each name read by Dean of the Faculty and Vice President for Academic Affairs Malcolm Hill. As each senior “walks,” the livestream will display a photograph of the senior’s choice and their hometown, major(s), and academic honors.

Will there be a speaker?

Similar to a traditional event, in addition to a greeting by President Clayton Spencer we will have two invited speakers: the acclaimed artist Vanessa German, whose exhibition, Miracles and Glory Abound, and residency at the Bates Museum of Art — was a triumph of our seniors’ year.

And we will hear from a member of the senior class, Senior Speaker Alexandria Onuoha of Malden, Mass., whose speech is titled, “Stay Strong and Walk Like You Got Some Sense,” words of advice that her mother gave to her. The speech is a tribute to the class, to Bates, and to her mother, who instilled values that Alexandria brought with her to Bates and that she saw embodied in Batesies. 

Will there be honorary degrees awarded?

Unfortunately, no.

Will we hear from faculty?

From our survey of the Class of 2020, we know that seniors and their loved ones very much want to hear from Bates faculty and staff. To that end, we intend to convey greetings, congratulations, and expressions of support from faculty and staff to the Class of 2020.

Does the administration know that the more they tell seniors to celebrate, the worse many of them feel?

Yes. And please know that we miss our seniors so much. This place misses them. It hurts that they, and we, have lost this part of their Bates experience. It is part of our humanity to acknowledge that grief and sadness often sit close to joy and celebration.

Will I be able to download the video file?

Yes. After the livestream is done, the video will be available on demand on Facebook and on the Bates YouTube channel, and available on demand and for download at https://www.bates.edu/commencement/live/

When does a senior officially graduate?

In the days prior to Commencement, the Board of Trustees and the Bates faculty approves Bates degrees to the Class of 2020. As with an in-person Commencement, the seniors will officially become Bates graduates when President Spencer confers their degrees during the Commencement livestream — at which time the graduates move their cap tassels from right to left.

Will there be an in-person event at some point?

Bates will host an in-person celebration of the Class of 2020 on campus once it is safe to do so — likely not before the end of the 2020–21 academic year.

When will seniors receive their diplomas?

Similar to the pre-Commencement package that all seniors received, Bates will send a post-Commencement package with each senior’s diploma and other items.