University President Jonathan Holloway sent an email to the Rutgers community yesterday to announce his decision to hold all spring commencement ceremonies virtually due to safety concerns regarding the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
Holloway said that he and the chancellors came to this decision because they do not think it is wise to plan large in-person gatherings given the circumstances, and they found that it would not be possible to hold smaller gatherings safely and equitably, according to the email.
Despite the optimism surrounding the COVID-19 vaccine and potential increases in the speed of the vaccine rollout, he said health experts believe that the state will still not be able to safely gather in large crowds, even outdoors, come the spring.
Holloway said that instead of planning ceremonies only to potentially cancel them when May comes around, he would rather put energy into making virtual commencements as well-designed and worthwhile as possible for graduating students.
He said that each campus is currently considering the best ways to honor graduates remotely, and announcements regarding these events are going to be sent by chancellors or deans later in the month, according to the email.
Additionally, Holloway said that the University is hoping to hold in-person events for both graduates of 2020 and 2021 later in the year, according to the email.
“I recognize that this decision will be deeply disappointing to our graduating students and their families and friends, and I am very sorry … At the point where we can resume holding large in-person gatherings, we will gladly plan for events that celebrate your accomplishments at Rutgers,” he said.