Since my last update on commencement much has changed. Many institutions–including Saint Peter’s–have moved to online instruction and support. Campus events nationwide have been canceled due to COVID-19, which the World Health Organization has declared a global pandemic. Safe practices–including social distancing–can help to minimize the spread of this coronavirus. As a result, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have issued guidance stating that gatherings of 50 people or more should be canceled or postponed for the next eight weeks. States of Emergency have been declared for New Jersey and the nation as a whole.
Given these developments, I regretfully announce that all university events are suspended at least until the end of May. These include–but are not limited to–Commencement, the Baccalaureate Mass and the John J. Delaney ’50 Graduate Reception. We believe this decision is the right one given that the health of our community is our prime concern. Nonetheless–this decision is painful and we are especially sorry about how this pandemic has affected celebration plans for the Class of 2020. The last months leading up to graduation should be when the campus is bustling with activity and a time to create special memories, and so I am especially disappointed for all of you who are finishing your degrees.
At this time we cannot predict when, where and how commencement will take place. However, we are committed to recognizing and celebrating the Class of 2020 who have all worked so hard to get to this point. As we learn more in the coming weeks, and our situation becomes clearer, we will work towards a plan to honor our graduates. We are certainly keeping open the possibility that we can do something to recognize our graduates’ achievements later this spring, but the current public health conditions make a more concrete prediction impossible to make at this time. Please also know that the Office of Leadership and Engagement will be in touch in regards to a plan for Senior Week as well.
Thanks to all of you–especially the Class of 2020–for your patience and understanding during this challenging time. Please let us continue to help each other. I have seen the Saint Peter’s community respond to this crisis with courage, care and support–and that is very good to see indeed.
Frederick Bonato, Ph.D.
Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs