FitzRandolph gate

Princeton University to welcome back Class of 2020 in Spring 2021 for on-campus Commencement

April 15, 2020 12:30 p.m.

While we cannot gather in person due to the pandemic, we will celebrate the achievements of graduating students at a virtual event on Sunday, May 31, at 1 p.m. EDT. The official conferral date on diplomas will be marked Tuesday, June 2, 2020. They will be mailed shortly after. 

See the virtual Commencement website for more information.

President Christopher L. Eisgruber wrote to the undergraduate Class of 2020 (full text below) to invite them to participate in a unique on-campus Commencement ceremony to be held in the days before Reunions on either May 19 or May 20, 2021. He added that the University will “officially and enthusiastically” confer degrees to all seniors and graduate students earning their degrees in a virtual ceremony on May 31, 2020. The current plans for other year-end ceremonies traditionally held on campus in the spring are described below. 

  • There will be no Baccalaureate service this spring.
  • Class Day awards honoring student accomplishments will be announced the week of May 25.
  • A virtual Hooding Ceremony for graduate students and their families will be held Friday, May 29, at 4 p.m. EDT. Students earning graduate degrees this year are also invited to participate in the on-campus Hooding Ceremony on May 24, 2021.
  • See the information for virtual departmental and ROTC events

To members and families of the GREAT Class of 2020,

Your class has achieved as much as any in memory, and you have sacrificed considerably more than any that I can recall. Each and every senior on this campus lost precious opportunities and long-anticipated moments when this awful pandemic forced Princeton’s spring semester online. I wish that we could give those special experiences back to all of you; I regret very much that we cannot.

We can, however, make sure that we celebrate your class in a way that recognizes its distinctive accomplishments and identity, and that allows you to reconnect with friends, share dreams, and reminisce about your time together. At first, we hoped that we might bring you back for your scheduled Commencement ceremony.  When the pandemic persisted and deepened, the impossibility of an in-person ceremony became clear. We then began talking with your class leadership to find the best possible alternative.

I write now to ask you and your families to save the date for a unique commencement ceremony to honor a class that is itself unique in the University’s history. The ceremony will take place in the days just before Reunions 2021, on either Wednesday, May 19, 2021, or Thursday, May 20, 2021. University administrators continue to work with your class leadership to determine which date works best given the complex logistics of Reunions. Whatever the date, we hope you and your families will be there. We will do our best to make the day wonderful and memorable, and we hope that you will then stay for the festivities of Reunions.

We will, of course, also officially and enthusiastically confer your degrees as scheduled on Sunday, May 31, 2020 in a short, virtual ceremony. I know that all of you are probably feeling Zoomed-out already, and a virtual ceremony is no substitute for the in-person ceremony you earned and deserve — which is why we want you back here in May 2021! But I hope you and your families will participate in the virtual ceremony. You have a right to be tremendously proud of the degree that you’ve earned, and we want to mark the occasion with you, and with family members or others who supported you on your Princeton journey, in May.  

Please let me close with two thoughts. The first is to offer my sympathy to those of you who have lost loved ones to this pandemic, or who know people who are fighting the disease at this moment, or who have been affected personally by the severe economic distress in our country and the world.  This disease has hit close to home for too many of us.

The second thought is to send my thanks for what you’ve done over the past few weeks: for responding graciously to adversity, for finding new ways to learn, for writing supportive notes to people who have helped you here, and for saving lives by helping to stop the infection’s spread. Your class will always have a special place in my heart and in Princeton’s history. I wish we could celebrate you on campus this June, in your class year; I look forward to doing so in May 2021. Until then, I hope that you remain healthy and well.

With warm best wishes and an enthusiastic Locomotive for 2020,

Chris Eisgruber

Committed to community near and far in time of COVID-19