May 2020 Commencement Ceremonies Postponed

Dear Members of the Campus Community:

It is with great disappointment that I announce the postponement of SUNY New Paltz’s May 2020 Commencement ceremonies. 

This is one of the most painful decisions I have made during my years as president at SUNY New Paltz, and I know other campus leaders feel the same. Commencement is a special day for graduates, parents and other family members, and close friends. It is a day to acknowledge the accomplishments of our graduates, the fruits of their years of hard work, and to launch our latest graduates in the next phase of your lives. It is both a completion and a new beginning. Faculty and staff who have worked with graduating students share in that celebration. We are all deeply saddened by the necessity of this decision.

This is, however, the right action for the health and safety of our community. The College traditionally welcomes thousands of visitors to campus during the three-day Commencement weekend; other typical end-of-year celebrations also attract many graduates and guests. In light of current federal, state and local guidance related to the COVID-19 outbreak, and the consensus of science and medical experts, we must accept the reality that we would be unable to guarantee the safety of our students, faculty, staff and guests at such gatherings this May. By making the decision to postpone now, we hope to provide enough notice for students and families to adjust their travel plans. This decision applies to major College-wide events (our graduate and two undergraduate commencement ceremonies) and to all other large celebratory gatherings typically held during May.

While we have made the decision to postpone, our goal is to reschedule the 2020 Commencement celebrations so that we can proudly recognize our graduating students in a manner befitting their exceptional achievements. Given the uncertainty of the coronavirus situation, we do not know when we will be able to reschedule but will provide updates as they become available. We welcome your suggestions on these efforts at I thank you for your patience as we work together to acknowledge this special milestone.

Our cap and gown provider, Herff Jones, has confirmed that students will be able to receive refunds for unused regalia. More details will be posted at Diplomas will be distributed directly to individual graduating seniors and graduate students once all course requirements are completed and Records & Registration clears each candidate for degree conferral.

I must say once again how grateful I am to all students, faculty and staff for your resiliency and creativity in meeting this unprecedented challenge. Our collective response to the coronavirus has already helped to slow its spread, and the sacrifices we have made and continue to make are saving lives.


Donald P. Christian

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