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,

As Marist moves toward the completion of another academic year, we would like to write to the Class of 2020 about your commencement, which was thwarted by the pandemic crisis last May. Marist is still unable to host a large-scale, in-person ceremony that we are accustomed to. New York State regulations currently in effect concerning commencement exercises limit ceremony attendance to 150 people, inclusive of staff. We regularly monitor and review New York State guidelines and communicate with state and local health officials, but it is unclear if and when these guidelines will change.

Marist is still committed to giving you the experience of a traditional commencement ceremony on the campus green. At the same time, we are exploring hosting many smaller ceremonies for the Class of 2021, spread out over multiple days. We are interested in hearing from members of last year’s class if you prefer the continued delay of a large-scale, in-person ceremony, or if you are interested in multiple smaller ceremonies, spread out over several days, perhaps taking place this summer. Such smaller events, subject to State guidelines, would almost certainly require masks and social distancing and probably limit or restrict the attendance of guests.

We invite you to share your preferences by completing the following survey.

Meanwhile, please know that the choice between holding a virtual ceremony or a postponed ceremony was one of the most difficult decisions the college had to make in 2020. We know you still seek the appropriate ceremonial recognition for your hard work at Marist. We are committed to providing this opportunity and celebrating your many achievements.

Thomas S. Wermuth
Vice President for Academic Affairs