In a letter today to the Class of 2020, University of Notre Dame President Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., announced that the University Commencement Ceremony on May 17 will be held online rather than in Notre Dame Stadium, and that an on-campus celebration has been scheduled for the spring of 2021.
Father Jenkins made the decision after discussions with experts on infectious diseases, University deans, and student government and class officers as he continued to monitor the spread of the novel coronavirus.
“Although there remains a good deal of uncertainty about the trajectory and duration of the pandemic” Father Jenkins wrote, “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 or at-risk members.
“The Notre Dame Commencement and the events leading up to it mean so much to our graduates, their families, our faculty and to me personally, and so it is with greatest regret that I tell you we will not be able to gather you on campus for Commencement this May.”
In order to ensure that the graduates’ degrees are conferred and certified in May for the purposes of employment or further studies, Notre Dame will live-stream a ceremony May 17. The commencement speaker, His All-Holiness Bartholomew, Orthodox Archbishop of Constantinople-New Rome and Ecumenical Patriarch, and others will be asked to record remarks for the graduates.
After speaking with Class of 2020 officers, Father Jenkins also announced that the University plans to bring this year’s graduates back to campus on Memorial Day weekend 2021 to, in his words, “spend time with your friends, classmates, faculty and others who have been part of your Notre Dame experience … and celebrate your accomplishments.” Details will be announced in coming months.
In closing his letter, Father Jenkins harkened back to graduates of Notre Dame’s Class of 1879, who were sent home before the end of the semester when a fire in April destroyed the Main Building, which at the time housed much of the University’s academic, housing, dining, administrative and other functions.
“The University, and that class, arose from the ashes of 1879 even stronger,” Father Jenkins wrote. “You will as well.”