To the Class of 2020,
I write today with an update on a topic many of you have been wondering about: Final Exercises.
I know how much all of you were looking forward to Final Exercises and how disappointed many of you are that the ceremonies had to be moved. Graduation isn’t just a chance to walk the Lawn and get your diploma. It’s a time to say goodbye to your friends; to thank your families for the sacrifices they’ve made and the support they’ve provided; to let your professors know how much you appreciate them; to have one more bagel, go on one more hike, and sing the Good Old Song one more time. It’s an incredibly special moment—and one every graduate of the University should have a chance to experience.
Over the last few weeks, we’ve heard from many of you hoping that we would be able to hold Final Exercises on a different date. That’s been our hope, too, which is why we convened a committee made up of undergraduate and graduate students as well as faculty and staff to look at different options for Final Exercises. Following the committee’s recommendation, we are planning the following:
- We will hold a virtual ceremony on the original date of Final Exercises, May 16, 2020, to confer degrees. This will serve as the official end of the academic year and allow all those who earned their degrees to graduate on time. We are planning something memorable to mark the occasion, and will have more details to share soon.
- We will hold Final Exercises on the Lawn, either this fall or next spring. We are holding the weekend of October 9-11, 2020, which coincides with fall reading days. Because we do not yet know whether it will be safe to have a large gathering in October, we are also holding May 28-30, 2021 as a backup, which is the weekend after the Class of 2021 will walk the Lawn. Given the continued uncertainty about COVID-19, we recommend against making travel plans for October until we know more; we simply wanted you to know now the dates we are holding on our calendars so that you can hold them on yours. We will follow up with more definite information in June.
- Schools and departments are planning to hold their own in-person ceremonies as well, although details—including possible dates—are still being worked out. As more details become available, we will post them on the Class of 2020 Final Exercises website.
This year’s Final Exercises will be different in some respects from the ones we had originally planned, and had been looking forward to. But we will do everything we can to make these ceremonies a fitting end to your time at UVA. While every class at UVA is special, yours is truly unique—and these Final Exercises will be, too. I expect it will be one of the most joyful occasions the Lawn has ever seen, and a moment all of us will remember forever. I look forward to seeing you there.