2022 Commencement to take place on the Green

The graduation ceremony will return to its customary location after two years of nontraditional alternatives.

by Adriana James-Rodil | 4/8/22 5:05am

by Katelyn Hadley / The Dartmouth

On March 17, the College announced that Commencement will take place on the Green for the first time since 2019. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, 2020 Commencement proceedings took place online, and in 2021 the celebrations took place at Memorial Stadium with masks. 

This year’s Commencement weekend, set for June 10-12, will mirror those held prior to the pandemic, vice president for alumni relations Cheryl Bascomb ’82 wrote in an emailed statement.

The 2022 Commencement brochure states that June 10 is the Order of March, when the College posts the assigned numbers of graduating students at Baker-Berry Library. The following day involves a commencement rehearsal, Class Day at The Bema, exercises such as speeches by seniors and faculty, an award ceremony and the class photo. Commencement assembly of seniors happens on Sunday, when family and friends are invited to campus to take part in graduation festivities.

On the day of Commencement, the academic procession will begin at 9 a.m., and the ceremony begins at 9:30 a.m., according to the College’s commencement website.

Provost David Kotz, who plays a role in planning the commencement activities as the master of ceremonies, said he was excited by the return of Commencement to the Green.

“It’s such an important and beautiful ceremony every time,” Kotz said. “I know that we haven’t been able to do it in a traditional way for two years, and so I’m really looking forward to seeing it happen again.”

According to executive director of conferences and events EJ Kiefer, most of the questions he has been receiving about Commencement weekend relate to housing accommodations for graduates’ friends and family. Guests attending Commencement have the option of filling out an application to stay in a College residence hall, which will be available for guests from 2 p.m. on Friday, June 10 through 2 p.m. on Sunday, June 12. 

Commencement is expected to proceed as normal, but if the past two years have been any indication, “we never quite know what to expect,” according to Kotz. As a result, there are no plans to alter the event, but there is always the possibility that Commencement could be adjusted in the event of changing College policies relating to health and safety, Kotz added. 

Kiefer said that should there be a COVID-19 outbreak as Commencement weekend approaches, the College’s first response would most likely be masking, followed by eliminating indoor activities and the possibility of going fully virtual if the situation worsened. 

“What we’ve learned over the past two years is that things can change quickly over a two-week period, that we were shifting plans as we were creating them,” Kiefer said. “There are multiple different plans ready to go depending on what the current status is.”

Noah Daniel ’22 will be walking at graduation this June and expressed excitement over the ceremony.

“It will be nice having all my family here and seeing everyone else’s family,” Daniel said.

For Daniel and some other ’22s, however, Commencement does not mark the end of their education at Dartmouth. A number of seniors will instead be taking classes on campus for several subsequent terms to complete their major requirements, especially because of the disruptive effects of the pandemic. Daniel said he expects to be at Dartmouth next fall and winter as he finishes his studies.

“I’m not sure if there’s the same unity of it being the final senior year,” Daniel said. “I think the problem is everyone’s schedules are out of whack and not aligned, so it doesn’t feel like we’re all leaving together . . . It will be an exciting ceremony to go through, but it doesn’t quite have the same meaning right now.”

The Class of 2020 will gather for a traditional commencement ceremony from Aug. 5-7. The Class of 2020 previously was unable to host its own ceremony due to the pandemic, according to Kotz.  

In 2021, Commencement was held in Memorial Stadium. Although Kotz noted that there were “some advantages” to the new location, such as easier setup and security, he said “for tradition and for capacity, and for the optics of holding it on the Green, it was something we really wanted to make happen.”