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The graduation ceremony for the Class of 2021 may be held in-person at Schoellkopf Field.

March 26, 2021

President Pollack Expresses Hope for Class of 2021 In-Person Commencement

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An in-person commencement might be on the horizon for this year’s graduating class.

In an email sent to the Cornell community Thursday afternoon, President Martha Pollack expressed hope that New York State guidelines will allow for a ceremony in Schoellkopf Field that would be limited to students. The University is still waiting on guidance from the state to confirm the final decision that will be released later this month, Pollack wrote. 

In March 2020, Cornell promised seniors an in-person ceremony before walking back on that promise last month. Pollack also noted that the University is also looking for ways to celebrate the Class of 2020. 

The email came just hours after Ithaca College announced it would hold commencement in person this May. The college will hold the ceremony in Glazer Arena and students will walk across the stage to receive their diploma covers — but guests won’t be allowed. 

Family and friends will instead watch the Ithaca College ceremony on Zoom, and students also can participate in the ceremony virtually, President Shirley Collado wrote in a statement. 

So far, all but two of the other seven Ivy League colleges are planning to hold in-person celebrations this spring. 

Yale University released a statement on March 15 that Yale will hold in-person events for graduating students if public health guidelines allow. 

Princeton University also announced its intention to hold an in-person commencement on Feb. 25. Graduating undergraduates, along with students receiving final master’s degrees or Ph.D.s, can participate. Princeton has not yet denied the possibility of inviting guests to attend — if allowed, students will be limited to two invitees each. 

On Feb. 2. Dartmouth College President Philip Hanlon wrote that the college plans to host in-person graduation. Dartmouth will release a final decision and date by the end of March. 

Brown University announced that the University will hold a “modified” version of a traditional commencement weekend in person. All graduating students can join, including those who have spent the past semester studying remotely. Like Ithaca College’s ceremony, family and friends must watch the ceremony over Zoom. 

The University of Pennsylvania announced that it would hold a single in-person event for undergraduate graduating students.  

However, both Harvard University and Columbia University have committed to virtual ceremonies. Harvard President Lawrence Bacow announced on Feb. 26 that commencement would be entirely virtual. Columbia will also run a live webcast for all graduating students.