In the two weeks since my last communication regarding Commencement, University personnel have explored and evaluated multiple scenarios for in-person graduation ceremonies at several large outdoor venues: Yankee Stadium and Citi Field. According to the latest New York State Department of Health (DOH) guidelines, these venues have the sheer seating capacity and potential to host large, in-person gatherings. For a variety of reasons, neither of the facilities are available, nor do they offer feasible options for us to host a ceremony of the size and scope needed for St. John’s University. It is important to note that New York State has separate and unique DOH guidelines for commencement ceremonies which are unlike guidelines in place for sporting events or public arts and entertainment venues.
In addition to our previously communicated plan to host school-specific “Virtual Commencement and Degree Conferral Ceremonies” from Monday, May 17 to Sunday, May 23, the University is now actively planning to host multiple in-person ceremonies, all of which will take place on the Queens Campus. These outdoor COVID-19 compliant events will adhere to the latest and still-changing public health guidelines. I anticipate that in-person ceremonies will be held in mid July.
I have instructed departments at the University to finalize the specific dates and plans for Commencement 2021—as well as a separate event(s) for the Class of 2020—as soon as possible to allow sufficient time for students and their families to plan accordingly. I expect that we will be able to announce these plans next week.
In accordance with the latest DOH guidelines, all guests at in-person commencement events will have to provide proof of a COVID-19 vaccination or proof of a negative diagnostic test result to gain admittance to these ceremonies.
The Office of University Events will continue to communicate with graduating students all plans for how St. John’s will celebrate Commencement in a virtual format in May and with in-person events during the summer.
Please be assured that the University is doing all that we can to provide an in-person Commencement that is both safe and celebratory, and, that demonstrates the collective pride of the St. John’s University family.
I ask for your continued patience and cooperation as our planning and procedures are finalized and as we determine how and when these in-person Commencement ceremonies will occur.