On April 1, President Sean Decatur announced in a news bulletin that the Commencement ceremony for the class of 2021 will occur in person, with limited guests, on May 21. Graduating seniors, including those currently studying remotely, are invited to bring up to two guests to campus.
Director of Health and Counseling Chris Smith said that a more normal graduation became a possibility as the College continued to review COVID-19 data, including vaccination rates in the Kenyon community. “Perfection is not a reality. But we’re going to do the best we can,” Smith said.
Every Ohioan over the age of 16 is now eligible to receive a vaccine, and President Joe Biden announced Tuesday that every state must make the vaccine universally accessible by April 19.
Originally, Commencement for the class of 2021 was planned for May 22. In February, the College announced plans had been changed to a celebration on May 8 for seniors who were currently on campus, and a virtual Commencement ceremony on June 12. Students had expressed concerns about holding graduation events before the end of final examinations on May 17, as many seniors would need to study and not be able to fully enjoy the celebration. At the time, Decatur told the Collegian that the early senior celebration was to prevent overlap with move-out, when many visitors would already be on campus helping students move.
Smith acknowledged concerns about the date of graduation, and said another reason the College decided to push back the date was the constantly changing state of the pandemic. The later date will allow more time to prepare for the event. Smith said the College would provide guidance to guests on quarantining and other safety measures closer to the event.
Earlier this year, the College cancelled plans to host a celebration for the class of 2020. Assistant Director of Academic and Ceremonial Events Bethanne Fowler said that the administration is reconsidering this decision in light of the current change to Commencement plans. “Within the next week or so, we will be sending a survey to the class [of 2020] to determine their preferences on potential dates for that event,” Fowler wrote in an email to the Collegian.