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Message from Dean Qu and Dean Panetta about Commencement for the Class of 2021

Dear SOE graduating MS & PhD students,

Congratulations on your upcoming graduation!

Earlier today, you received a message from President Monaco regarding the university’s plans for Commencement 2021. We fully support those plans, and we are committed to creating a meaningful experience for your graduation. At the same time, we also share your disappointment that the pandemic will prevent us from hosting our traditional university-wide event. We appreciate how difficult this entire situation continues to be.

Nonetheless, we have been striving to preserve some in-person aspects of our commencement festivities to honor and recognize your accomplishments.

We are pleased to inform you that the School of Engineering (SOE) is planning to hold a series of small in-person commencement events in April for graduating MS and PhD students, which will be recorded and then broadcast for viewing on Commencement Day, Sunday, May 23, 2021. It is our sincere hope that we are able to enact these plans and offer you, our graduating students, an in-person ceremony to acknowledge and celebrate your outstanding achievements. As you can imagine, organizing such a ceremony during this time of a pandemic is complex.

Unfortunately, family and friends will not be able to attend the ceremonies in person under any circumstances, but they will be able to celebrate and witness your ceremony when it is broadcast on Commencement Day, Sunday, May 23.

Details about the SOE Graduate Student Commencement Ceremonies will be shared with you in the coming weeks, but here is what we know right now:

  • All 2021 graduates will be invited to participate in a Commencement ceremony in April and early May during which their accomplishments will be recognized by academic leadership and their peers.
  • Students studying in person this semester will cross the stage in cap and gown while those studying remotely will participate via video. Due to COVID protocols, remote students cannot come to campus to participate in person. The last date that students can change their status from remote to in person and begin onboarding is Sunday, March 14.
  • The ceremonies will be organized by department and limited to a maximum of 83 participants (including faculty and staff) to comply with physical distancing requirements. Larger departments will need to have several ceremonies.
  • The ceremonies will be videotaped for broadcast on Commencement Day.
  • Unfortunately, family and friends will not be able to attend the ceremonies in person under any circumstances, but they will be able to celebrate and witness your ceremony when it is broadcast on Commencement Day, Sunday, May 23.
  • All students in campus housing must move out by noon on Saturday, May 15.

We are all aware that the pandemic remains a very fluid and unpredictable situation, and because of this, much remains unknown regarding potential future changes to local, state, and federal regulations. Accordingly, we must be prepared to change our plans if COVID-19 restrictions tighten in the coming months.

While we understand that these plans may not be ideal for every SOE graduate and their loved ones, please know that we are committed to doing our very best to celebrate your hard work and accomplishments, and to maintaining our community’s safety as our top priority.

We look forward to celebrating with you and seeing you off on your next adventure. If you have any questions or concerns, please email [email protected].

With best wishes,

Jianmin Qu,
Karol Family Professor
Dean, School of Engineering

Karen A. Panetta
Dean of Graduate Education, School of Engineering
Professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering