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University of Virginia rules out typical graduation ceremony, considering two alternative plans

(© Melinda Fawver –

The University of Virginia is consulting with the Class of 2021 about two possible options for final exercises.

The alternatives: holding events this spring that involve only graduating students, with no guests, or postponing a ceremony and other events to a future date when UVA can host families and friends, as well as students.

In either scenario, UVA will confer the degrees to the candidates in each school virtually and produce a celebratory virtual event for students, friends and families this May.

“The challenge remains around the size of gatherings permitted by the Commonwealth of Virginia and travel advisories, both of which preclude us from being able to host a ceremony that families and friends can attend,” UVA President Jim Ryan wrote in a communication to members of the graduating class Wednesday.

“The Finals 2021 Advisory Committee, composed of students, faculty, and administrators, will be surveying graduating students to inform this decision, and we will update you as plans progress,” Ryan wrote. “But for those making plans, please know that we will not be able to accommodate any guests this May, regardless of whatever option we ultimately pursue.”

Ryan said he regretted having to deliver the news, saying he knows it comes as a disappointment, “though perhaps not a surprise.”

“I know this is not the way you expected to end your time at UVA, nor is it the way we would like to celebrate your accomplishments,” Ryan said. “Still, I remain confident we will be able to celebrate and honor your class in a way that will be both meaningful and memorable.”

As more information becomes available, it will be posted to the Finals Weekend 2021 webpage.

Celebrations for the Class of 2020 delayed to 2022

Members of the Class of 2020 received their degrees last May in a virtual celebration of the class. At the time, the administration said it would hold final, in-person exercises for the class May 28-30, 2021.

In a separate communication sent to the Class of 2020 Wednesday, Ryan wrote that “given the ongoing challenges to safe travel and convenings posed by the pandemic, we are not going to be able to host a large event or ceremony for your class this year.

“After consultation with the Finals 2020 Advisory Group, which includes student leaders from your class, we have decided to again postpone your in-person graduation activities to the Summer of 2022. I realize this news may come as another disappointment, and for that I am truly sorry,” Ryan wrote.

The president said he is excited by the new plans the 2020 Advisory Group is envisioning for 2022.

“This event, which will combine elements of Final Exercises and an early reunion, will provide an opportunity to walk the Lawn for those who wish to do so, as well as a chance to reconnect with classmates, friends, and faculty in meaningful ways,” he wrote.

As updated information becomes available, it will be posted on the page for final exercises for the Class of 2020.

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