3.31.20: Commencement update from President Simon

An update regarding Commencement activities for the Class of 2020. 

Dear Members of Our Lehigh Community and Lehigh Families,

For all of us, Commencement serves as an important touchstone—a ceremony signifying the culmination and fulfillment of studies requiring years of hard work and determination and an opportunity for our community to come together in celebration, reflection, and thanks.

It is with this acknowledgment that I am writing to share updates and alternate plans for this year's Commencement activities, originally scheduled for Sunday, May 17, through Monday, May 18. Guidance from our health professionals and the CDC indicates that holding these events as originally planned would put our community at great health risk.

As such, no activities will take place on these original dates, and we will postpone the Commencement Ceremony originally scheduled for 10:00 a.m. on Monday, May 18. To be clear, Commencement is not canceled, and we look forward to holding this celebratory event for the Class of 2020 in Goodman Stadium later this year.  

In addition, we will plan to hold a virtual celebration at the end of the academic year. Degrees will be conferred and diplomas will be mailed at the end of the academic year as originally planned. The doctoral hooding ceremony will also be postponed. We recognize there are other meaningful recognition ceremonies and activities impacted, and updates will be communicated as needed.

We wanted to provide this information now for families who were planning to make travel and hotel arrangements and will communicate about dates for the postponed ceremonies when scheduled. I am also working with a small group of students formed by the Student Senate to inform our planning for the physical and virtual components.

We recognize the traditional in-person ceremony is meaningful to our students and families, and we hope that by postponing the ceremony, many of you will still be able to partake in this momentous occasion. We also recognize that for some families, traveling to campus at this later date may be difficult, and so by providing a virtual celebration in addition to the physical celebration, we can provide our graduating students with an appropriate and much-deserved recognition of their accomplishments. The Lehigh University Commencement website will be updated with new information frequently, including answers to questions about regalia and other items.

When we look back on this time, Commencement may not have happened as we all originally envisioned, but it will be highly memorable—not only because of these special circumstances and your exceptional achievements in light of these challenges, but also for the opportunity to show gratitude to those who have meant so much to us, including fellow students, family, and members of the Lehigh community. These relationships have always been important, but perhaps more so in times such as these when we lean on one another for extra support.

As I communicated previously, with every decision we remain committed to your academic development while continuing to promote the health and wellness of our community. We look forward to the day when we can physically come together again to celebrate. And we will celebrate! Our time together—I’m sure of it—will be all the more meaningful in light of these extraordinary circumstances.


John D. Simon ’19P