University of Virginia President Jim Ryan has announced that Final Exercises for the Class of 2020 will be held May 28-30, 2021.
In a letter to members of the Class of 2020 delivered Wednesday morning, Ryan said the plan assumes public health regulations by that point will permit large gatherings.
In April, Ryan said UVA was considering two possibilities for Final Exercises, one being Oct. 9-11 of this year. He explained the decision to celebrate the Class of 2020 next May this way:
“We reached this decision for several reasons,” he wrote. “First, the dates set aside in October for Final Exercises lined up with fall break for current UVA students. Last week, we announced that undergraduate fall break will be canceled. We are doing this so that we can finish in-person instruction by Thanksgiving in order to minimize travel and possible transmission of the virus.”
Because of these changes, Ryan explained that it would be difficult to accommodate thousands of graduates and their families while students are still on Grounds attending classes.
The president said the public health measures put in place for the fall, which include social distancing requirements, would also make it challenging to hold Final Exercises on the Lawn and to hold individual ceremonies across Grounds.
“Finally, while we still don’t know exactly what the fall will look like in terms of the progression of the virus, it seems quite unlikely that public health restrictions will allow for large gatherings by October,” Ryan said.
The president said he understood the news may be disappointing to some, “but our primary goal – beyond keeping you and everyone on Grounds safe – is to give you and your families the celebration you deserve, and one that reflects the special place the Class of 2020 will always hold in the history of this university, he said. “Holding Final Exercises in May gives us the best chance to do that, and we’re already working on ways to make the weekend a meaningful and memorable one.”
On March 17, UVA announced the postponement of Final Exercises because of the COVID-19 pandemic. On May 16 – on what was to have been their graduation weekend – members of the Class of 2020 gathered in front of screens around the world for a virtual celebration and conferral of degrees that included surprise performances by musician Dave Matthews and virtuoso cellist Yo-Yo Ma.