“It is with a heavy heart that I must announce the need to postpone Dartmouth's Commencement exercises,” College President Phil Hanlon wrote in an email to the senior class on Thursday afternoon. The College has not yet finalized a new date for commencement, but vice president of alumni relations Cheryl Bascomb, other College officials and student representatives have recommended that in-person ceremonies for the Class of 2020 take place in June 2021.
There will be a virtual event to award degrees on June 14, the original commencement date, but there will be no in-person ceremony this summer, Hanlon wrote.
Hanlon added that the College will be working with members of the senior class to decide “the ideal date and program” for the event and that they expect to finalize the date next month.
The College will likely distribute surveys to the entire Class of 2020 regarding possible June 2021 dates for the in-person ceremony, Bascomb wrote in an email statement to The Dartmouth. She added that two students in the Class of 2020 are also members of the commencement committee and are “helping to create the programs and make recommendations.”
Bascomb noted that this fall was considered for the postponed ceremony, but it was eliminated “for a variety of reasons, some logistical, others related to the unknown health profile of our world at that point.”
Graduate and professional school investiture ceremonies will also be rescheduled. Their dates will be determined by each school’s respective dean, Hanlon wrote.
Reunions set to be held in June, including the 50-year reunion for the Class of 1970, will also be canceled, according to Bascomb.
College spokesperson Diana Lawrence wrote in an email to The Dartmouth that families who have reserved on-campus housing for commencement weekend will be refunded automatically.
Dartmouth is the seventh Ivy League school to either cancel or postpone commencement ceremonies.
Brown University, Cornell University and Harvard University have postponed their commencements. Columbia University has canceled this year’s commencement ceremonies with no alternative plan currently in place, while the University of Pennsylvania and Yale University have canceled their ceremonies with the possibility of hosting celebratory events in the fall. Administrators at Princeton University have not yet announced a decision.
Hanlon’s email noted that the decision to postpone Dartmouth’s ceremony was made in consultation with Dartmouth’s COVID-19 task force, state and local officials and “other widely respected public health professionals,” informed by models of the anticipated spread of COVID-19.
He noted in the email that hosting a large event like commencement on its scheduled date, with students, alumni and other guests from around the world gathering together, would be “simply too great a risk to take.”