In-person May 2020 Commencement rescheduled for May 2021

Dear Members of the Campus Community, The College is moving forward with plans to reschedule the postponed May 2020 Commencement Ceremonies to May 2021, and will hold a virtual, pre-recorded Commencement Ceremony on May 22, 2020, as part our effort to recognize our students in this uncertain time.

Our number one priority is to provide our graduates and candidates with the opportunity to return to campus for a safe, in-person Commencement celebration next year to recognize their years of hard work and accomplishments in earning a college degree. We will share additional details about a May 2021 in-person celebration at a later date. While we initially considered a fall ceremony, the uncertainty of the pandemic’s timeline and the lack of a vaccine led us to conclude that a May 2021 in-person ceremony would be most prudent.

The virtual Commencement Ceremony WILL NOT REPLACE an in-person Commencement celebration for our August 2019, December 2019 and January 2020 graduates, and May 2020 and August 2020 candidates. Those eligible to participate will be recognized individually through a slide show that features their degree, major, academic honors and a photo and quote of their choice.

We are organizing this pre-recorded event as a way for our campus community to celebrate and reflect on the end of the 2019-20 academic year, even as we continue to live, work, teach and learn in accordance with social distancing guidelines. A digital Commencement program is being created to mark this virtual celebration and will be available on the Commencement website on May 22.

Diplomas for August and December 2019 and January 2020 graduates have already been mailed. Diplomas for May and December 2020 candidates will be mailed once their degree requirements are completed and their degrees are certified by the College Registrar.

Please read on for information about the virtual Commencement Ceremony, including actions all graduates and candidates need to take in order to participate.

What is a virtual Commencement?

The College is partnering with a third-party company called MarchingOrder to create virtual graduate and undergraduate ceremonies that will include:

  • Brief, pre-recorded Commencement speeches broadcast in accessible video formats
  • Verbal announcements of each individual graduate’s name
  • Customizable slides featuring personal recognition, photos and messages from each graduate

The virtual ceremonies will be available beginning at 1 p.m. (U.S. Eastern Standard Time) on Friday, May 22, so that our graduates and their family members can participate from anywhere in the world. They will also be available for a full year for repeat viewing or for those who are not able to tune in when the event website goes live.

Learn more about the Marching Order virtual Commencement ceremony from this short video:

What do graduates and candidates need to do to participate?

Please keep an eye out for an email from with instructions for how to register with MarchingOrder.

  1. Name pronunciation: As part of our virtual Commencement Ceremony, MarchingOrder will hire professional voice recorders to pre-record the names of all of our participating graduates and candidates. Students will have an opportunity to provide information about how to pronounce their names. This is an optional step. Students can send pronunciation info in writing or as a voice recording. The deadline to send your name recording is April 29. Students who choose not to provide pronunciation information will still have their names read aloud during the virtual Commencement Ceremony; the College is not responsible for mispronunciations if students do not provide that information to MarchingOrder before the deadline.
  2. Portrait and personal message: Students will also have the opportunity to contribute a photo and personal quote to be included on a custom slide during the virtual ceremony. This is an exciting opportunity to be creative and add a personal touch to your virtual recognition. Please note that photos and quotes will be subject to review and may be excluded for inappropriate or offensive content. The deadline to submit your photo and your quote is May 9. If you miss this deadline, your slide will include your name, degree, major and academic honors.

Again, graduates will receive emails with requests for the name recordings and the photo and quote, so please keep an eye on your email in the coming days and weeks and respond quickly to ensure your inclusion in the virtual Commencement Ceremony.

As we continue navigating this unexpected change together, we understand that students, family members, faculty and staff will have additional questions about the virtual Commencement Ceremony on May 22, 2020, and the rescheduled, in-person Commencement in May 2021. 

We will continue to share Commencement-related updates and reminders via email, social media and the Commencement webpage at

We have also created a Commencement Frequently Asked Questions page and will be updating it regularly with new information and in response to feedback from our community. 

You can get in touch with the SUNY New Paltz Commencement team at Please send your questions and we will do our best to answer them on our FAQ page in a timely manner. 


Donald P. Christian

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