2021 Commencement Update: Ceremony Moved to May 21

President Decatur announces modifications to Kenyon’s plans to celebrate the Class of 2021.

By Communications staff

Dear members of the Class of 2021 and families,

Among the many difficult decisions we have had to make these past 13 months, making changes to our traditional Commencement ceremonies have been among the hardest. We know how much these moments mean for students and their families. Although we must continue to exercise caution, improving COVID-19 conditions — including a quicker expansion of vaccine eligibility nationwide than originally anticipated — as well as feedback we have received have prompted us to adjust some of our plans for the Class of 2021’s Commencement.

The Commencement ceremony will now occur Friday, May 21, at 10:30 a.m. outdoors, rain or shine. Seniors (including those studying remotely and those who graduated early), faculty, staff and a limited number of guests are invited to attend in person in appropriately distanced seating, with masking and other COVID-19 protocols in place. Each senior may invite a maximum of two people to campus to attend Commencement as guests as well as to assist them in moving out of their residences. 

In order to help maintain the health and well-being of everyone on campus, I regret that no more than two guests per senior will be able to attend. The event will be livestreamed so that additional friends and family may join in the celebration virtually. Further, seniors who have not been in residence this spring semester are not permitted to stay overnight in Kenyon residence halls. As a reminder, all plans are subject to change or cancellation in the event of worsening pandemic conditions.

Collegiate honors that have been certified by the registrar will be announced at the ceremony, and graduating students will have the opportunity to cross the stage in their caps and gowns. Diplomas will be mailed over the summer. Commencement will include remarks from Senior Class President Hannah Petrich and a faculty speaker chosen by the class, as well as a version of the traditional Senior Sing, led by Professor of Music Benjamin “Doc” Locke.

The May 21 ceremony replaces two events that were previously announced: the in-person Senior Celebration, scheduled for May 8, and the virtual Commencement ceremony, scheduled for June 12. Both of these events are canceled. Activities to celebrate the senior class at the end of the semester, but preceding Commencement, are still being planned.

Seniors are asked to move out of campus residences by 5 p.m. on May 21, with the assistance of their two invited guests. We recognize that some seniors may have already made travel plans that cannot be adjusted and will need to depart campus before May 21. Regardless of your ability to attend the May 21 ceremony, if you have completed the College’s usual requirements for graduation, as certified by the registrar, your degree will be conferred. 

Graduating from college is a major achievement under any circumstances; after this difficult year, it means even more. I recognize that this Commencement will not be the celebration any of us envisioned when we sat together at Convocation in front of Sam Mather in August 2017, but I hope that it will still provide meaningful closure to the Class of 2021’s extraordinary Kenyon career. 

The COVID-19 pandemic and associated challenges have taken an emotional toll on all of us over the past year, and I am forever grateful for the continued grace the Kenyon community has extended to one another during this time. I would also like to recognize the extraordinary efforts that Kenyon staff have made to repeatedly pivot as plans have changed in the face of changing circumstances — a reflection of their dedication to our students.

Please address questions to commencement@kenyon.edu. Answers to frequently asked questions are available on our website and additional details will be emailed as planning progresses. 

Thank you,

Sean Decatur

Prepared by the Office of Communications, April 1, 2021