Interim President Marcia White shared the following announcement via email with 2020 and 2021 graduates today (March 26, 2021):
Dear 2020 and 2021 graduates,
Thank you for being so patient as you waited for a decision on commencement. We are incredibly proud of how you have navigated the pandemic. We’re happy to announce our plan for in-person graduation ceremonies.
We planned commencement with two driving principles: One, that you would get the opportunity to walk across a stage in person and hear your name called while we livestream the event. And two, that you would be able to have guests, even if that number needs to be limited due to New York State restrictions on event capacity. We want to thank members of the Class of 2020 and 2021 who participated in a focus group on commencement planning recently for their insights.
As we lay out the plan below, please note that these plans are subject to change (for better or worse) based on the circumstances with the pandemic and New York State guidelines. Here are the specifics as they stand now:
Location: We will hold three commencement ceremonies at the Times Union Center in Albany.
Class of 2021 graduate students: Friday, May 7, at 7 p.m.
Class of 2021 undergraduate and College Experience Program students: Saturday, May 8, at 10 a.m.
Class of 2020 undergraduate, graduate, and College Experience Program students: Saturday, May 8, 3 p.m.
Guests: Currently, the Times Union Center is permitted to host events with a maximum capacity of approximately 10% or 1,300 people. In order to accommodate our graduates and guests, graduates are permitted to have a maximum of two guests. We know this means tough choices among your loved ones, but it is one of the challenges of navigating ceremonies during a pandemic. Please note, all three ceremonies will be livestreamed for friends and family. Graduates who attend the ceremony will have their names called as they walk across the stage. Graduates who cannot attend will have their names read and scrolled across the screen at the end of the livestream.
Testing: The Times Union Center will require that all commencement attendees (graduates, guest, and commencement staff/volunteers) show proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test within 72 hours of the day of the event. Attendees do not have to obtain a COVID-19 PCR test if they can show proof of having completed the COVID-19 vaccination series at least 14 days prior to commencement day. Guest information will be collected in case contact tracing is necessary. Temperatures will be taken upon entry. We will provide testing on campus for 2020 and 2021 graduates, and you will receive communication about that as commencement nears. You also can find resources on obtaining a PCR test on the commencement area of our website. We will update you if these guidelines change.
Submit your degree application: As a reminder to the Class of 2021, you need to submit your degree application in order to graduate. You can do so following these steps from the Registrar. You must be approved for graduation before you can access the RSVP link for the ceremony. You can find directions on how to check if you’re approved in the commencement FAQs on our website.
Advance sign-up: Graduates are required to register online for attending commencement no later than April 16. This allows us to plan for an accurate number of attendees. After you submit your degree application and are approved (Class of 2020 graduates would have already been approved), you will be able to access the RSVP link.
Caps and gowns: Caps and gowns (which also come with hoods and tassels) must be reserved online by April 9 in order to ensure timely delivery. The link for reserving your cap and gown will be emailed to graduates and posted on the commencement page on our website early next week. Caps and gowns can either be picked up and paid for in our campus bookstore, or if graduates cannot come to campus, they can email email@example.com or call 518.454.5245 to arrange for shipping and pay for their order. There is an additional cost for shipping. Please contact the bookstore to arrange for shipping as soon as possible so you will receive your order in time.
Photos: As we always do, we will arrange for photos to be taken of graduates as they exit the stage. Masks will need to be worn for the photos.
Graduate gallery online: Last year, we offered members of the Class of 2020, the opportunity to post their bio and photo in our gallery of graduates. Members of the Class of 2020 are still able to add their profiles. We have also launched a gallery for the Class of 2021. Please join us in this additional way of celebrating you. Note that these bios are added manually, so your photo and bio will not instantly appear when you submit your information.
Additional celebrations: Printed commencement programs will be produced, and we will also celebrate the Classes of 2020 and 2021 in the May edition of the Saint Rose Magazine. All graduates’ names will be listed in both publications. A commemorative commencement video will also be released in the weeks following commencement.
CITE: The Center for Integrated Teacher Education (CITE) program is a distance delivery partner of the College for students from Westchester, Nassau, Suffolk, and New York City who are seeking advanced certificates in the field of education. Although we do not have the capacity to host our many CITE graduates at the commencement ceremonies this year, we will include their names in the commencement program and the Saint Rose Magazine. Because of time constraints, the names of CITE graduates will not be read as part of the live ceremony.
A complex set of factors went into making the decision about commencement. As you know, commencement plans had to be made within the parameters set by New York State for gatherings. New York State has yet to issue guidelines specific to commencement ceremonies, so we are planning with the guidelines for gatherings that are currently in place. Smaller ceremonies on-campus were also considered, but the number of graduates and space limitations coupled with the desire to have guests, revealed it wasn’t feasible. Our plan to have commencement at the Times Union Center is our best option given the limits the pandemic has placed on in-person events.
All of this information and more can be found on our commencement page on the website. If you have questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re thrilled to be hosting commencement this year, and we can’t wait for you to have this very special moment in May. We are so very proud of you.