Class of 2021,

Marist understands the importance of Commencement to our graduates and their families, and we are pleased to announce the College is planning in-person commencement ceremonies for Memorial Day weekend, May 29-31. The College has been consulting with senior class leaders and has distributed a survey to the entire graduating class. The overwhelming preference of the graduating class is for an in-person commencement ceremony to be held on the campus green, even if state regulations require reduced attendance and prevent the participation of guests.

Marist is dedicated to providing as traditional and large a ceremony as allowable by New York State regulations. We anticipate rules concerning social distancing, masks, and limited gathering size to still be in place at the time of graduation. In addition, we expect there will be requirements for pre-registration and testing for any possible guests. We hope these regulations will loosen, but if they don’t, Marist will offer in-person commencement exercises for graduates only, while providing high-quality live streaming of the event for families to watch remotely. Families will also be welcome during designated move-out times to enjoy outdoor photo opportunity areas on campus.

With these limitations in mind, we ask that graduates hold the dates of Memorial Day weekend, May 29-31, for Marist’s 2021 Commencement Exercises. Our plan, subject to change given the uncertainty of the pandemic, is to hold the traditional undergraduate ceremony on Sunday, May 30. We are preparing for multiple contingencies and know it may be necessary to hold additional ceremonies, as large as possible, into Monday, May 31. We still recommend families do not make any non-refundable travel arrangements.

We apologize for any uncertainty and hope graduates and their families understand that it is very possible that the state will hold us to very strict guidelines. While it is often pointed out that other New York colleges and universities have announced their plans, these plans commonly state there will be no guests at all or that ceremonies will be completely virtual. Marist is hoping restrictions will be liberalized to allow two guests per graduate to allow a more traditional event.

Finally, because of New York State restrictions on indoor gatherings, we want to remind the class that Commencement will take place outdoors, rain or shine. There will not be an alternative indoor ceremony site.

We will provide further updates once New York State finalizes their policies.

Thomas S. Wermuth
Vice President for Academic Affairs

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Class of 2020,

We have not forgotten you. We are committed to providing your class a commencement ceremony and celebrating your many achievements. In May 2020, Marist had two options for commencement exercises: to postpone to a later date or to provide a virtual ceremony. Postponing the ceremony was one of the most difficult decisions the College has had to make during this global pandemic. 

While Marist is planning in-person ceremonies for the Class of 2021, the circumstances are less than ideal, with the College operating under severe limitations and the uncertainty of guests.

On March 29, Marist distributed a survey to the Class of 2020, asking members if they preferred to continue the delay or were interested in returning to campus under current state-wide restrictions. The overwhelming response was to wait to hold commencement until all could participate together in a large-scale, in-person commencement ceremony. Based on the results, the Commencement Committee will be reviewing the various possibilities and options for a traditional commencement ceremony for the Class of 2020. The most likely choices would be this Fall or in Spring 2022.

Thomas S. Wermuth
Vice President for Academic Affairs