Announcing CWRU's Plans for Diploma Ceremonies

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 medicine—will 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