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Stanford plans in-person Commencement 2021 celebration

Dear Stanford community,

I’m writing to share positive news about Commencement 2021: We will be able to offer the opportunity to celebrate together in person in Stanford Stadium.

Due to ongoing public health considerations, the celebration will have to look different than usual. But improvements in the public health situation and the very recent relaxation of some of the State of California’s public health orders, including guidelines on socially distanced outdoor commencement ceremonies and out-of-state visitors, have now made it possible for us to move forward with plans for a limited in-person gathering this June.

We are committed to a Commencement experience that, while imperfect in some respects, is fun, meaningful and safe, contingent on the public health orders in place at the time. We have consulted with student leaders, who have expressed their enthusiasm to proceed despite the constraints.

To comply with state guidelines and ensure necessary social distancing and health precautions, the following adjustments have been made:

  • We will have two ceremonies: one for advanced-degree recipients on Saturday, June 12 and one for graduating seniors on Sunday, June 13.
  • Each graduating student who chooses to attend will be allowed two guest tickets.
  • To comply with state requirements, guests and students travelling from outside California will need to be fully vaccinated. Guests and students already on campus or travelling from within the state will need to be fully vaccinated or provide proof of a negative COVID test.
  • All seating will be socially distanced and pre-assigned, and face coverings will be required.
  • Photo opportunities will be created to enable students and their families to capture their graduation moment.
  • These events will also be livestreamed for those who are unable to join in person and a recording will be made available.

In consideration of the overall impact on campus, other events, including school and departmental gatherings, will still be virtual as originally planned.

We are exploring ways to adjust other traditions. We will continue working with the leadership of the senior class and the ASSU, including the Graduate Student Council, to develop our plans, including COVID-appropriate alternatives to the Wacky Walk and other Commencement traditions.

We will have more details in the coming weeks and will continue monitoring public health requirements to keep our graduates, their families and our community safe. In the interim, FAQs and other information can be found at Stanford Commencement.

We are well aware that this plan is not the full Commencement experience that we all would like to have. We deeply regret that some members of our community may not be able to join in person. However, after careful consideration of the situation and with health precautions and state regulations firmly in mind, we believe this is the best path forward and we are excited to celebrate with our graduates.

While these plans will provide an opportunity to gather for our 2021 graduates, most of whom will already be on campus, we are still operating with substantial constraints. Therefore, we will offer our promised in-person celebration for 2020 graduates at a later date and will be in touch with them when we have further information.

Our community continues to inspire me. While navigating the challenges and pressures over the past year, our graduates have been creative, determined and strong, simultaneously distanced yet together. I’m very much looking forward to celebrating – in Stanford Stadium – their achievements and marking the first steps of their new journeys!

We will continue to update the community as we look forward to a safe and joyous celebration amidst these unusual times.


Marc Tessier-Lavigne