2021 Commencement Updates

Case Western Reserve University will share commencement updates via this website, in emails to graduates, and in announcements published in The Daily.   

Updated June 2, 2021

This email was sent on June 1, 2021 to members of the Class of 2020

To Our 2020 Graduates:

We continue to regret that COVID-19 risks required us to make your commencement entirely online—and then to cancel plans for you to gather for a belated graduation last fall.

Now that vaccinations are allowing officials to lift many of the restrictions imposed in the spring of 2020, we want to give you that long-awaited celebration with one another and your loved ones. Your in-person ceremony will take place on the morning of Saturday, Oct. 23—during this year’s homecoming (Oct. 21–24). 

We are still finalizing details, but wanted to let you know the date as soon as it was determined. What we can share so far is that:

  • graduates will have a single indoor ceremony;
  • graduates will have to pre-register to attend;
  • graduates and the platform party will wear full regalia (e.g., caps and gowns);
  • graduates will cross the stage and be recognized; and
  • guests will be welcome so long as space and public health considerations allow.

We also are considering additional events during the weekend that would be specifically for the Class of 2020.

We recognize that you have waited for this event far longer than any graduates should, and that this communication leaves many questions unanswered.

Please know that we are working as quickly as possible to determine the venue and related logistical issues, among others. We will update you promptly as more information becomes available.

For now, we deeply appreciate your patience, and look forward to welcoming you in October.

Scott Cowen
Interim President

Ben Vinson
Provost and Executive Vice President

The information below is current as of April 28, 2021. Please check back regularly as the events draw closer.

Masks are required for everyone attending the ceremony, regardless of vaccination status. 

For those students already in Cleveland:

Vaccination:
Vaccination is strongly encouraged for students attending graduation. 

Testing:
Testing is recommended approximately 3-5 days prior to graduation ceremony. Students should continue to be surveillance tested without charge at the Veale Recreation Center location during regular testing hours. Information about the testing process can be found here.

Symptoms, Exposures, or a Positive Test:
If you have symptoms of COVID-19, an exposure to someone with COVID-19, or test positive for COVID-19, please do not come to campus. Please isolate away from others and contact Health Services at 216.368.2450. You will receive immediate medical advice, and a provider will call you within 24 hours with additional guidance.


For students arriving from outside of Cleveland:

Vaccination:
Vaccination is strongly encouraged for students attending graduation. 

Quarantine:
Quarantine for those arriving from domestic locations will not be required for students who are planning to come to campus to attend the graduation ceremony. Per current CDC guidelines, a 7-day quarantine after arrival from an international location is required. If you are arriving from an international location, please email cwruisoq@case.edu for additional details. We do require that students arriving from out-of-state not visit or stay in the residence halls. 

Testing:
Testing is recommended approximately 3-5 days prior to the graduation ceremony. Any student is welcome to be tested without charge at the Veale Recreation Center location during regular testing hours. Information about the testing process can be found here.

Symptoms, Exposures, or a Positive Test:
If you have symptoms of COVID-19, an exposure to someone with COVID-19, or test positive for COVID-19 before you are to travel to Cleveland, please contact Health Services at 216.368.2450 during business hours for advice before leaving for your trip. If you develop symptoms, or learn of an exposure of a positive test when you are already in Cleveland, please do not come to campus. Please isolate away from others and contact Health Services at 216.368.2450. You will receive immediate medical advice, and a provider will call you within 24 hours with additional guidance.

As of May 14, 2021, all existing university protocols involving COVID-19—including mask-wearing and physical distancing—continue to be in effect. No changes have been made to the commencement ceremony plans. Please review the complete statement for details

April 5, 2021 

To our graduating students, 

We are writing to provide a follow-up to Interim President Cowen and Provost Vinson’s March 19 announcement with additional details and next steps for participating in the May 2021 commencement ceremonies. 

Updates are continually being made to the commencement website as information is confirmed. The ceremony schedule has been posted, along with several FAQs. Please continue to check the website frequently for new announcements. 

Later this week, we will open commencement registration. You should expect an email from Marching Order, the outside vendor contracted to create personalized graduate slides and manage registration for our in-person ceremonies. All eligible graduates must confirm their intention to participate in the in-person ceremony before May 16 using the Marching Order platform. Graduates not attending the in-person ceremonies should still submit their information to create a personalized slide for recognition. Additional details about COVID-19 protocols will be provided as we get closer to May. 

Furthermore, please note that while we are designing a safe and celebratory experience for our graduates, this year’s activities will look different than those in the past. For example, in order to adhere to occupancy guidelines and COVID-19 protocols, we will likely need to host multiple ceremonies on May 30 to accommodate all our undergraduate students. Many of these details are still being finalized, and remain subject to change in response to evolving public health conditions. If you have further questions, feel free to reach out to the commencement coordinator from your school.  

For now, please continue checking the commencement website for updates, and look for an email from Marching Order to complete your registration. 

We look forward to celebrating your accomplishments in May. 

-The Commencement Office

To Our Graduating Students:

After reviewing your responses to last week’s commencement survey and examining potential options, we are pleased to share that we plan to hold our graduation ceremonies in person this year.

Nearly 900 of you completed last week’s survey, with 52 percent indicating you would “definitely” attend an in-person event, and another 21 percent saying you “probably” would be there. Survey participation was nearly even among undergraduates and graduate and/or professional students—with all schools represented in proportions comparable to their student populations.

As you may recall from last week’s message, we sought your feedback after determining that the lowered prevalence of COVID-19 in our region—as well as increasing vaccination rates—had finally made consideration of an in-person event possible. Like many of you, we treasure the tradition of graduates coming together to celebrate their achievements and receive the diplomas they worked so hard to earn. We were glad to read that so many of you felt similar sentiments, and look forward seeing you experience those moments during your respective ceremonies in May.

That said, infection risks still continue, and the pandemic has repeatedly reminded us that progress made can quickly erode. Because physical distancing requirements mean we cannot accommodate all of our graduates together at once, we will record the university convocation to view on demand.

We will hold in-person diploma ceremonies for schools awarding professional or graduate degrees, and at least two separate ceremonies for students receiving bachelor’s degrees. All of these events will take place on Freiberger Field, and will be livestreamed so family and friends can watch them unfold in real time. Public health considerations require that we limit attendance only to graduates and select faculty and staff assisting with the ceremonies.

Our first two ceremonies—law and medicinewill take place on Sunday, May 16, to allow these graduates to address time-sensitive matters (respectively, bar examinations and the start of residencies). Each of the undergraduate ceremonies will take place Sunday, May 30. The remaining schools’ diploma ceremonies will happen on the preceding Friday and Saturday (May 28-29).

We recognize that limiting attendance to graduates is disappointing to families and friends, and regret that COVID-19 prevention and safety protocols require it. After extensive review of alternative options—on and off campus—Freiberger Field continued to be the university’s only viable option.   

Even then, changes in public health conditions could force us to adjust the nature of these events. Should that need arise, we will notify you as quickly as possible.

The university will provide additional overarching details next week, and schools with advanced degree graduates will communicate to their respective communities in the weeks that follow. We wanted to provide this broad information as early as possible for your planning purposes.

We wish all of you the best during the rest of this semester, and cannot wait to celebrate your accomplishments in May.

Scott Cowen
Interim President

Ben Vinson
Provost and Executive Vice President

Due to circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 global pandemic, the university will host modified in-person graduation ceremonies over the course of several days in May 2021. 

Ceremony Schedule 

All events will take place outdoors on Freiberger Field, are limited to graduates only, and will include COVID-19 safety protocols. Event timing and links to view the ceremonies online will be provided in May. 

Sunday, May 16, 2021

  • School of Law - 1:00 p.m. 
  • School of Medicine - 3:30 p.m.

Friday, May 28, 2021

  • School of Dental Medicine - 9:30 a.m. 
  • School of Graduate Studies - 12:30 p.m. 

Saturday, May 29, 2021

  • Weatherhead School of Management (graduate & professional degrees) - 9:30 a.m. 
  • Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences - 12:30 p.m. 
  • Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing (graduate & professional degrees) - 3:30 p.m. 

Sunday, May 30, 2021

  • Undergraduate Studies - (all bachelor’s degree programs offered by the College of Arts and Sciences, Case School of Engineering, Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing, and Weatherhead School of Management) - multiple ceremonies, timing to be announced after registration closes on May 16

Commencement 2021 is being planned in compliance with the university’s COVID-19 Health & Safety Policies, the Ohio Department of Health guidelines, the rules and regulations governing events in the State of Ohio and guidance from the CDC regarding events and gatherings

The University considered a range of options for Commencement this year, including hosting a fully virtual event, and decided to prioritize planning for a modified in-person experience for graduates, hosted on our campus. 

In designing our commencement plans we thoroughly researched many scenarios - both indoor and outdoor, with and without guests, a traditional ceremony or a modified one. We gathered information from our peers at other universities, explored the availability of off-campus venues, surveyed graduating students, and gathered information from key constituencies to inform our decisions. 

The decision not to invite guests was a difficult one. But ultimately, the varied availability of vaccines, the emergence of new COVID variants, and ongoing travel restrictions in some parts of the country made it clear that it would not be feasible to gather as we have in the past. The health and safety of our campus community remains our highest priority. 

As has been the case since the pandemic began, if public health conditions change significantly, we may have to adjust accordingly and modify our planned in-person events. 

Unfortunately, no. We will not be able to accommodate family members or guests at any on-campus celebrations, regardless of their vaccination status.

The Case Western Reserve University campus has been closed to external visitors all semester due to the COVID-19 pandemic. More information about the visitor policy can be found on the university’s COVID-19 website.

If you have already made travel arrangements, we suggest that you review the refund and cancellation policies and contact your vendors, accordingly.

No, attendance at the on-campus ceremonies is not required. Graduates have the option of watching the ceremony remotely or attending in-person.

Eligible graduates will receive an email from Marching Order in April, asking them to register to attend the in-person ceremonies and also create a personalized slide for recognition. Graduates not attending the in-person ceremonies should still submit their information to create a personalized slide for recognition.

Students can participate in commencement provided they are in compliance with the university’s Covid-19 Health and Safety Policies. Additional information will be provided as we get closer to May.

Marching Order, an outside vendor, has been contracted to create personalized graduate slides and manage registration for our in-person ceremonies. All eligible graduates must confirm their intention to participate in the in-person ceremony before May 16 using the Marching Order platform. Graduates not attending the in-person ceremonies should still submit their information to create a personalized slide for recognition.

The application for graduation is an academic process, housed within SIS. Detailed instructions on Applying to Graduate are available on the University Registrar's website. Registration to attend the commencement ceremony is separate, not associated with SIS. 

Yes, graduates attending the ceremonies during May 28-30 will receive a copy of the commencement program at the event. Graduates attending the May 16 ceremonies, and those who do not attend will receive a copy of the commencement program in the mail with their diploma. 

The order of ceremony for each event will be posted on the website so viewers may follow along at home. 

Note: Latin honors will appear in the program book only, not on the personalized student slides.
 

Academic regalia (cap and gown) is required for all graduates attending the on-campus ceremonies. 

Keepsake regalia for undergraduate and master’s students should be purchased by Friday, May 14, 2021.

Rental regalia for professional and doctoral students participating in the May 16 ceremonies must be ordered by Friday, April 30, 2021. Rental regalia for professional and doctoral students participating in the May 28-29 ceremonies must be ordered by Friday, May 14, 2021.

Students may order academic regalia in one of three ways:

  1. Visit the University Bookstore at 11451 Euclid Avenue;  
  2. Call the University Bookstore at 216.368.2650 or 800.825.2650; 
  3. Order online directly from the vendor, Oak Hall Cap & Gown: https://casewestern.shopoakhalli.com/

Visit the Cap + Gown webpage for additional information. 

Class rings, formal graduation announcements, diploma frames, and alumni merchandise can be purchased from the University Bookstore. Visit the Gifts + Memorabilia webpage for additional information.

October 2, 2020 Message to Students: Spring 2021 Calendar 

Please note, because of the delayed start of the 2021 spring semester, the Commencement date has changed. Commencement is scheduled for Sunday, May 30, 2021.

View the full Academic Calendar on the University Registrar’s website.