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In-person Commencement Celebration for the 2021 Graduates

April 30, 2021

To: The Caltech Community
     Thomas F. Rosenbaum, President
     David A. Tirrell, Provost
     Kevin M. Gilmartin, Vice President for Student Affairs
Date: April 30, 2021
Re: In-person Commencement Celebration for the 2021 Graduates

We write to update you on a positive and welcome development in our plans for marking our graduates' academic accomplishments this June. 

Continued improvements in local public health conditions, and recent updates to Pasadena Public Health's event protocols, now allow for the Institute to host a limited in-person commencement celebration on campus. This will bring together up to 300 fully vaccinated bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degree candidates, on June 11, 2021, for the screening of a virtual ceremony that marks this momentous occasion in the company of their peers. In accord with current public health authority guidelines, proof of vaccination will be required for all individuals in attendance.

This commencement celebration will look different from our traditional ceremony. It will be restricted to graduating students only, it will be staged on the athletic field, and it will be centered around the screening of our virtual ceremony. Attendees will have access to a staged photo area for individual and group pictures.

We have heard very clearly from our student leaders and representatives that what is most valued this June is the opportunity for our graduating students to return to campus and to safely gather with one another to celebrate their achievements. To that end, we are planning an event that celebrates our graduates in a warm and engaging way, in alignment with local health protocols, and in accord with our commitment to protecting the health and well-being of the entire community. 

At the same time, we understand that not all of our graduates will be able to gather for a June in-person event. Those who watch the ceremony remotely will be included fully in our celebration. Commemorating this milestone in an equitable way for all of our graduates, at the undergraduate and advanced degree levels, remains an Institute priority. 

We remain committed to our previously announced plans for an in-person celebration event on campus this fall. The fall event will be open to all 2020 and 2021 graduates and their families, as well as faculty and staff, and will incorporate traditional ceremonial elements such as processing across a stage and a PhD hooding event. 

More details on the June in-person celebration, including information on registering to attend and submitting proof of vaccination status, will be shared with the graduates in the coming weeks. The planning of the event depends upon final approval from local health authorities.