In a campuswide email sent on Tuesday, April 21, Chancellor Kim A. Wilcox announced UCR’s decision to postpone commencement for the class of 2020 until health officials say it is safe to do so. Due to campus closures related to the COVID-19 pandemic and a statewide restriction of large gatherings, in-person commencement ceremonies originally scheduled for June 12-15 would not be feasible.
The Commencement Working Group, created by Wilcox earlier this year to discuss changes to the 2020 commencement ceremony, asked students to submit their recommendations on how to move forward with this year’s ceremony given these issues. The working group then presented the top three recommendations to Wilcox on April 15.
The three recommendations given by the Working Group were to postpone in-person Commencement 2020 events until it is safe to reschedule them, hold June 2020 celebrations online and communicate approved recommendations to students and their families in a timely manner, approximately three months before the in-person ceremonies are rescheduled. In addition to the decision to postpone in-person commencements until they can be safely rescheduled, the university will also honor the spirit of the third recommendation and communicate with families in advance. “We will continue to follow guidelines established by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and abide by orders from California Governor Gavin Newsom and the Riverside County Public Health Officer,” stated Wilcox. The email also states that the creative staff members who organize commencement each year are currently evaluating ways to hold online ceremonies in June.
In an interview with The Highlander, Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs and Co-Chair of the Commencement Working Group, Brian L. Haynes stated that there is no foreseeable date for when Commencement 2020 will be rescheduled. “The reality is that we don’t necessarily think we will be able to hold a mass commencement ceremony in the Fall … probably not even in the Winter. So really it looks as though the earliest we can do an in-person ceremony will probably be at some point in 2021,” stated Haynes. He stated that decisions will ultimately be predicated on what health officials say is best surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.