Announcement About Commencement

Dear Seniors,

I write today with important information about plans for this year’s Commencement. Given where we stand with the global pandemic, it is clear that it would be neither safe nor prudent for us to host an in-person Commencement in May, involving, as it would, bringing to campus upwards of 3,000 people to celebrate together. I am heartbroken to convey this news, adding to the disappointments you have experienced this semester, as events beyond imagination have conspired to deprive you of the traditions students look forward to as the culmination of their four years at Bates.

I know that it is particularly upsetting for you and your families that we will not be able to gather on the Historic Quad on May 31 to celebrate your many accomplishments in the company of your friends, families, and professors. The Faculty and Trustees will, however, vote your degrees as usual in May, and all those who qualify will graduate on the intended date of May 31 in order to make sure that you are poised to move on with your lives once circumstances begin to return to normal.

We plan to mark your graduation this year with a virtual ceremony on May 31, and to create an experience that captures, albeit in a different form, the elements that are most meaningful to you. Additionally, we will host an in-person celebration of the Class of 2020 on campus once it is safe to do so—when the pandemic is well behind us, and likely not before the end of the 2020–21 academic year. The Office of Campus Life will work with the Senior Class Co-Presidents to determine the best way to solicit ideas and input from all members of the class. So, for this year, please continue to hold May 31 on your calendar, and keep your eyes out for a communication later this week.

Meanwhile, I hope that your classes are going well and that you and your families are staying safe and healthy in these disconcerting circumstances. Although the campus is strangely still and quiet, the trees on the Quad are beginning to bud and the days are getting longer, bringing hope and optimism amidst the worry and uncertainty that are too present these days for so many.

Please know that I think about you seniors every day, as I realize that this is not at all how you expected to end your four years at Bates. At the same time, I also know that you are accomplished and strong, and you will emerge from this experience to lead lives of generosity and purpose.

I look forward to being with you virtually on May 31, and to welcoming the great Class of 2020 back to campus in person next year.

All my best, Clayton