SUNY New Paltz will host a series of smaller, shorter in-person Commencement ceremonies for our 2021 graduates on May 14-16 and 2020 graduates on May 22-23. We are excited to offer our students an in-person experience to mark this milestone in their lives and recognize their hard-earned achievements.
Our plans follow extensive consultation between campus stakeholders and SUNY officials to ensure that our ceremonies are consistent with state and federal public health guidelines. We are also prepared to pivot to a fully virtual celebration if COVID-19 positive case numbers increase or state and local guidance restricts in-person events in mid-May. We are in contact with county health officials about our plans and will make adjustments as needed.
To hold in-person ceremonies within state capacity limits, we are unfortunately unable to invite any guests, including our students’ family members and friends (whether they live on campus or off campus), to attend our Commencement ceremonies this year. We recognize that this will be difficult for families that have waited years to celebrate their students’ accomplishments, but this is a necessary condition for us to offer an in-person experience while complying with state guidelines and ensuring community safety.
More details about our 2021 Commencement plans can be found below.
Two Commencement weekends: One for 2021 grads, and one for 2020 grads
We will hold ceremonies on the Old Main Quad, rain-or-shine on consecutive weekends. The first weekend (May 14-16, as originally scheduled in the Academic Calendar) will be a 2021 Commencement for May and August 2021 candidates, and December 2020 and January 2021 graduates.
May 14 & 15 will be for undergraduate students, and May 16 will be for graduate students.
The second weekend (May 22-23) will be for our December 2019, January 2020, May 2020 and August 2020 graduates who were unable to participate in an in-person ceremony last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
May 22 will be for undergraduate alumni, and May 23 will include ceremonies for both undergraduate and graduate alumni.
We have assigned students and graduates to ceremonies based on their academic majors and schools. Students eligible to participate should have received their time assignments via email to their @newpaltz.edu address. You may not switch you scheduled ceremony weekend or assigned ceremony date and time.
How our smaller, shorter ceremonies will work
Our ceremonies will have a maximum of 200 participants at each (including graduates, faculty and staff support, and a much-reduced stage party), to meet state regulations and capacity limits for outdoor gatherings.
We will organize these ceremonies so that students graduate with peers in their majors and academic schools, to the extent possible. We anticipate that each ceremony will be roughly 30 minutes in length.
President Donald P. Christian and Interim Provost Barbara Lyman will preside at each event and confer students’ degrees. There will be no hooding of master’s candidates, no handshaking and no processional or recessional this year.
Faculty and staff will have an opportunity to participate by volunteering in safe, socially distant roles to staff the ceremonies. More information about how to volunteer, including the link to sign up, can be found here.
Seats will be arranged on the Old Main Quad separated by at least six feet in all directions, and students will be directed to take their seats immediately upon arriving for their ceremony date and time.
Students will be called up to the stage in marked, socially distant rows, and faculty, staff and student marshals will help maintain distance. After receiving their diploma covers, students will be directed to exit the Quad and staff will support their safe departure along the way.
Additionally, every student eligible to graduate this May will have an opportunity to submit their name and photo for inclusion in a virtual Commencement slideshow. We will share more information about that process soon.
Still need to get your cap and gown? Visit the Campus Bookstore after May 3!
We encouraged our students to order their caps and gowns from our partners at Herff Jones in March and early April in order to ensure delivery in time for Commencement.
If you haven’t gotten yours yet, the Campus Bookstore in the Student Union Building may be able to help you out.
The Bookstore has a small number of caps, gowns, tassels, honor cords and other graduate items available for in-store purchasing, starting May 3.
Additional resources and contact info
You can find much more detail about our May Commencement plans at our new Frequently Asked Questions page, which will be updated regularly as new information is confirmed.
If you have general questions about our Commencement ceremonies, you can send those to firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you’re having technical difficulties with things like your email invitation or downloading and printing the Participation Card, please let us know at email@example.com.
If you have questions about your credits, diploma or your eligibility for graduation honors, please direct those to the Office of Records & Registration at firstname.lastname@example.org.