April 5, 2021
Dear Class of 2020,
After the first cases of COVID-19 appeared in New Orleans last year, forcing us to depopulate our campuses and shift to online teaching and learning, we had no idea what we could expect in the coming year. We did our best to salute you and celebrate your extraordinary achievements, your resilience and your future, virtually, with TUgether – Connecting the Class of 2020. We also vowed to bring you back to campus for an in-person recognition that would properly celebrate your achievements. However, with shifting local and national restrictions, safety protocols, and surges, scheduling an event which properly celebrates your class has proven to be exceedingly complicated. Only now, with the roll out of COVID-19 vaccines, are we able to move forward in planning this event. But first, we need your feedback on which of two alternative dates is best for your rescheduled commencement.
We had originally hoped to hold in-person, unified commencements on separate weekends this May for both the Classes of 2020 and 2021. Unfortunately, we did not receive city and state public health guidance for commencements until very recently – in late-March. This was far too late to schedule both commencements and still provide proper notice to the Class of 2020 and their families, most of whom would have had to travel back to New Orleans. There are also significant limitations to hosting any event this spring. For instance, under current guidelines, the Class of 2021 will only be able to hold shorter in-person, school-based ceremonies, with each graduate limited to two guests. The university-wide unified ceremony will have to be virtual.
Holding a full, in-person graduation for the Class of 2020 with guests later in the summer, as some have suggested, is complicated by the fact that COVID-19 cases are still surging in many states and countries around the world, making it difficult to predict what size gatherings will be allowed by summer. Additionally, outdoor weather in New Orleans during the peak summer months is not ideal. Instead, we’re currently considering hosting a unified, in person commencement ceremony with guests for the Class of 2020 during Homecoming weekend, which is scheduled for Nov. 12-14, 2021. This event would take place in either Yulman stadium or another suitable venue. Alternatively, given that you missed your last Crawfest, we could schedule your commencement the same weekend as Crawfest, April 23, 2022. This would allow you to attend both events. Either of these scenarios will require travel and commitment on your part, so we would like your feedback on which option you prefer. Please complete this survey as soon as possible so we can provide you with the commencement you desire and deserve.
Few classes in history have endured the level of disruptions that the Class of 2020 has experienced. You are the first class in a century to graduate during in global pandemic. We have longed to celebrate your academic achievement, accomplishment and triumphs. Now that opportunity is on the horizon and we can’t wait. It will be wonderful to welcome you home again.
Commencement Planning Committee