Princeton University to hold virtual graduation ceremonies this May and postpone on-campus commencement

The on-campus commencement ceremony for the Princeton University class of 2020 has been postponed until May of 2021. Degrees will still be conferred this spring in a virtual ceremony.

Princeton University President Christopher Eisgruber informed students of the changes in a letter.

“Your class has achieved as much as any in memory, and you have sacrificed considerably more than any that I can recall. Each and every senior on this campus lost precious opportunities and long-anticipated moments when this awful pandemic forced Princeton’s spring semester online. I wish that we could give those special experiences back to all of you; I regret very much that we cannot,” Eisgruber wrote.

“We can, however, make sure that we celebrate your class in a way that recognizes its distinctive accomplishments and identity, and that allows you to reconnect with friends, share dreams, and reminisce about your time together,” he wrote. “At first, we hoped that we might bring you back for your scheduled commencement ceremony. When the pandemic persisted and deepened, the impossibility of an in-person ceremony became clear. We then began talking with your class leadership to find the best possible alternative.”

The on-campus commencement ceremony for the class of 2020 will take place just before reunions on either May 19 or May 20 of 2021. University administrators are still working out details. Degrees will be conferred in a short virtual ceremony on Sunday, May 31, 2020.

“I know that all of you are probably feeling Zoomed-out already, and a virtual ceremony is no substitute for the in-person ceremony you earned and deserve — which is why we want you back here in May 2021,” wrote Eisgruber. “But I hope you and your families will participate in the virtual ceremony. You have a right to be tremendously proud of the degree that you’ve earned, and we want to mark the occasion with you, and with family members or others who supported you on your Princeton journey, in June.”  

Eisgruber also offered his sympathies to students who have lost loved ones because of the pandemic, who know people battling COVID-19, or who have been affected economically by the pandemic. “This disease has hit close to home for too many of us,” he wrote.

He also thanked students for adapting over the last month and responding graciously to adversity. “Your class will always have a special place in my heart and in Princeton’s history,” he wrote.