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Notre Dame commencement moved online, on-campus celebration scheduled for May 2021

| Monday, March 30, 2020

Commencement for the Notre Dame class of 2020 will not take place as scheduled in May, but will be held virtually due to the coronavirus pandemic, University President Fr. John Jenkins wrote in an email to graduating seniors Monday morning. 

“Although there remains a good deal of uncertainty about the trajectory and duration of the pandemic, it is becoming clear that it would not be prudent to host on May 16-17 the Notre Dame Commencement on our campus—a large gathering bringing together families from across the country and around the world, many with older and at-risk members,” Jenkins said in the email. 

Graduating students will receive their grades in an online commencement ceremony on May 17 for “employment and further studies.” Seniors will receive their degrees from Jenkins over livestream, and speakers — including the commencement speaker, Patriarch Bartholemew — will record their speeches in advance to be viewed on the day of commencement. The University will then mail students their diplomas in June. 

Though their graduation will be held virtually, seniors will be invited back to campus Memorial Day weekend 2021 to celebrate their graduation, albeit belatedly, according to Jenkins’ email. 

The specifics of the weekend will be determined by discussions of a student committee which will convene soon, but will include a mass, a convocation in Notre Dame Stadium with the traditional cap and gown, college and departmental ceremonies, a last visit to the Grotto and a commencement ball, Jenkins said in a follow-up email Tuesday.

Jenkins compared the class of 2020 to the University’s class of 1879, when students had to leave campus in late April due to a fire that destroyed most of Notre Dame’s campus. 

“The Class of 2020 will always have a special place in the hearts of all who are part of Notre Dame,” Jenkins said. “I look forward to the celebrations to come. Through our patroness, Mary, I ask for God’s blessing on each of you and on your loved ones in this trying time.”

This report was updated at 8:51 p.m.

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