Stanford announces plans for virtual Commencement Weekend

Feb. 16, 2021, 2:00 p.m.

The University plans to hold a virtual Commencement Celebration for graduating seniors from June 11-13, President Marc Tessier-Lavigne announced in a Tuesday email. 

This news comes after the University canceled plans to invite frosh and sophomores back to campus for the winter quarter and after a new COVID-19 variant was discovered in Santa Clara County. 

“Although we are seeing some hopeful signs in the trajectory of COVID-19, we do not realistically expect large in-person gatherings to be possible in Santa Clara County by this June,” Tessier-Lavigne wrote. 

The campus-wide celebration will be streamed online on Sunday, June 13, and there will be virtual events and activities throughout the weekend, according to the email. Details about speakers and activities will be announced closer to the time of the event, according to the email. 

Tessier-Lavigne also wrote that the University is committed to developing an in-person celebration for 2021 graduates when conditions allow. He reaffirmed that an in-person celebration will be held for 2020 graduates who had a virtual ceremony last year.

The University will also work with students to explore the feasibility of smaller in-person social gatherings during Commencement Weekend as public health rules permit, Tessier-Lavigne wrote.  

According to Tessier-Lavigne, plans for the virtual celebration were made with the leadership of the senior class, the Associated Students of Stanford University, the Graduate Student Council and other campus partners. He wrote that the University will continue to draw on student input to plan “as joyous, engaging and personal an experience as possible under the constraints of the pandemic.”

He encouraged students to provide feedback and suggestions using a Google form.

The decision to plan a virtual commencement ceremony will not impact whether or not juniors and seniors will return for the spring quarter, according to Tessier-Lavigne. Undergraduate students will be notified about spring quarter plans during the week of Feb. 22-26 — a week earlier than the original deadline of March 1.

“While our celebration on June 13 will not be the Commencement we hoped for, it will allow us to honor the accomplishments of our graduates and share our warmest wishes as they go out to make their mark in a changed world — with the promise of coming together again in the future,” Tessier-Lavigne wrote.

Contact Malaysia Atwater at matwater ‘at’

Malaysia Atwater '23 is a senior staff writer and former Vol. 260/261 managing editor in the News section. She is a political science major from Centennial, Colorado, and she enjoys dancing and re-watching Grey's Anatomy in her free time. Contact her at matwater 'at'

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