To the Duke Community,

After consultation with faculty, students, and administrative leadership, I’d like to provide an update on commencement for this spring.

In assessing plans and possibilities, our primary goal is to offer students the opportunity to experience this once-in-a-lifetime event safely—and to host an in-person ceremony, if possible, under appropriate public health guidance and legal directives from the State of North Carolina and City of Durham.

With that in mind, we hope to offer an in-person event in Wallace Wade Stadium for members of the undergraduate Class of 2021 who have been regular participants in our COVID testing surveillance program. This ceremony would take place after the conclusion of final examinations, on Sunday, May 2, 2021 from 9—11 a.m. Safety protocols for masking and appropriate distancing would be strictly enforced. We anticipate that only graduating students would be permitted to attend, with the ceremony broadcast to family and friends around the world.

With the pandemic still very much in flux, we will continue to monitor our circumstances and public health guidelines and adjust our plans accordingly.  Should conditions improve, we may consider expanding the scope of the ceremony.  On the other hand, should the situation worsen, we may be forced to make the entire event virtual.

While travel and state guidelines currently prevent us from inviting back members of the undergraduate Class of 2020 for this ceremony, we are exploring possibilities for celebrating them sometime after the spring. We will be in touch in the coming days with additional information and to obtain the Class of 2020’s feedback on possible options.

Our graduate and professional programs—several of which do not complete the semester until after the undergraduate ceremony on May 2—will receive guidance and support to safely host their own events. We anticipate that some may also offer limited in-person celebrations should circumstances allow. Additional information is forthcoming from your deans.

As has been the case throughout the past year, our overarching concern this spring is for the health and safety of our campus community. To that end, I appreciate your flexibility as this situation continues to evolve.

Very best wishes,