Union College plans to hold outdoor graduation ceremonies in June for students in both its current graduating class and last year’s class, offering two separate ceremonies for the roughly 500 graduates in each class.
The separate ceremonies will be held at the college’s traditional graduation spot, Hull Plaza, the patio and lawn spreading out from the college’s Schaffer Library. The main site will not allow in visitors beyond the graduates, under recently-released state guidelines for graduation events, but Union plans to allow each graduate two ticketed guests who can join a separate outdoor, on-campus location to view a livestream of the ceremony.
The Class of 2021 will be honored June 13, and students from last year’s graduating class, who a year ago were conferred degrees during an online ceremony, will be welcomed back to campus for their own commencement ceremony on June 20.
“The past 14 months of the pandemic have brought extraordinary challenges to our Union community,” President David Harris said in an email to the Class of 2021. “We are so proud of how our community has responded in extraordinary ways to put us in a position to be able to plan for an in-person celebration.”
The Class of 2021 ceremony will feature 1984 Union graduate Susanne Goldie as a keynote speaker. Goldie, a public health professor at Harvard University, is a medical researcher who has focused her work on virus of global health importance, cancer prevention, reproductive health and maternal mortality.
Union’s announcement comes a few days after state health officials issued new guidelines for how school districts and colleges can conduct graduation ceremonies this spring. Outdoor events in a large space or venue allow for the greatest participation, but even those events are capped at a maximum of 500 people. Everyone who participates in the ceremony must also show proof of negative COVID-19 test or vaccination.