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Commencement: Important message to the University of Rochester community from Sarah Mangelsdorf

Hello everyone,

We are all working hard to deal with the impacts of the Coronavirus pandemic in our community and on our campus. Many of our colleagues are out there on the front lines of patient care, student support, and campus operations, and I’m so grateful to all of them. I am proud of the way the University of Rochester is coming together to prepare for and address this health crisis.

We are encountering many unknowns right now, but there’s one particular unknown I’m hearing about more than any other, especially from our seniors and their parents and from other members of the Class of 2020 in master’s and doctoral programs. They wonder whether we will hold commencement this year.

I have wondered about this myself, and talked with our deans, our doctors, and our epidemiologists. Not a single one has been able to tell me definitively what things will be like in May. Given that uncertainty, and given the predictions that the effects of this pandemic may linger for months, I have made the decision to cancel the University’s on-campus commencement celebrations this May.

I know this is disappointing for many of you. This is not a decision I made lightly. But I thought it would be better to tell you now, instead of waiting until the last minute.

And I’m particularly sad because you were my first graduating class, and you’ll always be special to me. I was looking forward to graduating with you – and your families – and to celebrating your accomplishments and sharing your joy as you stepped into the future with your University of Rochester degree.

We are now looking into alternate ways to celebrate commencement this year. It will not be in the way you might have envisioned, but we will aim to make it special – and even memorable. I expect your deans and program directors will be in touch shortly with ideas and information for individual degree program plans, and I am reviewing a number of options for a “virtual” University-wide event.

And I promise we will have an on-campus celebration in the future! In the meantime, please do all you can to stay safe, healthy, and connected to your friends and family as we make our way through this current uncertainty.

Be well,

Sarah Mangelsdorf
President and G. Robert Witmer, Jr. University Professor

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