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Tulane Commencement

As announced in a letter to the community on March 26, Tulane University will offer a hybrid Commencement to celebrate the Class of 2021. All planning for commencement events is in alignment with guidelines provided by the Louisiana Department of Health and the City of New Orleans and is subject to change.

Virtual Unified Commencement (virtual) – Saturday, May 22, 2021 at 2 p.m.

Since we are limited by state and city COVID-19 guidelines, we cannot offer an in-person, unified commencement. Instead, this event will be in a virtual format, similar to last year. We understand this is disappointing, but we promise to deliver an engaging event with a distinctive New Orleans flair. This year’s keynote speaker will be Ruby Bridges, an icon of the civil rights movement who, at age six, became the youngest of a group of African American students to integrate public schools in New Orleans. The event, which will include keynote addresses and the conferral of degrees, will be streamed on this website.

School Ceremonies (in-person) – May 19-21

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Since we want to provide students with the opportunity to walk across the stage in their robes, we have worked to provide graduates the option of attending individual school ceremonies in the days immediately preceding virtual Unified Commencement. These multiple, small school-based ceremonies – which are limited to 90 minutes each to comply with state guidelines – will take place over three days (May 19-21) in Yulman Stadium. Attendance will be limited to graduating students and no more than two guests per graduate – all events will also be livestreamed. A schedule with the exact dates of these ceremonies will be shared as soon as possible. Students and guests will be required to follow all safety protocols. All guests are highly encouraged to obtain a vaccine and/or get tested before traveling.

The School of Medicine will also hold a separate in-person ceremony on May 22. The School of Social Work will host an in-person ceremony in December 2021.

To comply with state and city requirements, the following guidelines will be followed for each school ceremony:

  • All event protocols regarding masking, distancing and hygiene must be followed
     
  • Each student is allowed two guests – events will be ticketed, tickets will be non-transferrable and guests will be seated together
     
  • All guests are highly encouraged to obtain a vaccine and/or get tested before traveling. If a test is needed while guests are in town, Tulane will provide this service.
     
  • There will be no processional – graduates will have assigned seats on the field
     
  • Each event will be no more than 90 minutes in length
     
  • Once a graduate crosses the stage they must immediately exit the stadium, as must their guests, per state guidelines
     
  • Following stadium exit, graduates and guests must disperse from the perimeter - with many events staged back-to-back, the stadium and parking areas will have to be cleared quickly
     
  • There will be limited parking available - more information about transportation options will be shared in coming weeks.
     
  • The events will be held rain or shine – although there is some flexibility for adjusting start times of the events, they cannot be rescheduled for a later date

More information will be published on this site as details are confirmed.

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Past keynote speakers in recent years include U.S. Presidents President George H. W. Bush and William J. Clinton; award-winning actress Helen Mirren; news anchors Hoda Kotb and Anderson Cooper; jazz musician Wynton Marsalis; comedian Ellen DeGeneres; and His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama. 

The practice of wearing caps and gowns to signify a graduate’s educational passage from one level to the next extends back to medieval universities.