February 23, 2024

Plans for 2020 and 2021 Commencements

A message from the Provost.

Dear Colleagues,

Today, the University of Mary Washington is making the announcement that our 2020 and 2021 Commencements will take place in person over as many as four days: Thursday, May 6, and Friday, May 7, for the Class of 2020, and Saturday, May 8, and Sunday, May 9, for the Class of 2021.

To accommodate the expected numbers and to comply with the Governor’s updated health and safety guidelines, instead of a single ceremony on Ball Circle, we will need to provide multiple smaller ceremonies in a new location. The only feasible on-campus venue is the recreation field next to Route 1; this the site that will allow for the most graduates and guests and provide readily accessible garage parking with minimal interruption to campus. The format of each ceremony will be modified and shortened, and the platform party will be reduced to the smallest representation possible – again, to ensure more space for graduates and guests. We hope to have a faculty representative on the stage for each of the ceremonies; otherwise, only those faculty and staff who happen to be family members of graduates or those specifically supporting the logistics of the event will be in attendance. It will be a priority to limit  the number of individuals in attendance at each ceremony, as well as those moving around on the campus, in order to observe our COVID protocols and to avoid impact on final exams.

Because the major activity, parking, and visitor flow will be along Sunken Road, Route 1, and the parking garage, we hope to avoid undue noise or disruption while students are taking their final exams. Residence Life is working on plans for move-out that should also lessen impact on student finals. Before the event, additional information will be shared about alternative parking for those who would normally utilize the garage during this time.

While you are strongly advised to plan to be away from campus those four days doing your end-of-semester work remotely, and we continue to encourage departments, programs, and Colleges to conduct end-of-semester student activities virtually, we will be in critical need of volunteers. Please watch for the email call for volunteers; your service will be welcomed and appreciated.

Although a number of Commencement plans had been developed, this new opportunity to hold an in-person event on campus is by far the most meaningful option for students and their families. It is also the most intensive and challenging. Thus, many details clearly need to be resolved, and we appreciate your patience. Please refer to the Commencement website for periodic updates.


Nina Mikhalevsky