Commencement updates for the classes of 2020 and 2021

The following message was sent Friday, Feb. 5, to members of the Class of 2020, the Class of 2021 and their families.

Class of 2020, 2021, and families,

As we consider plans for Commencement for the classes of 2020 and 2021, we are balancing two priorities: honoring students’ academic achievements and protecting the health of students, faculty, staff, families, alumni, and friends.

We understand you are eager for information about Commencement and will provide final Commencement details by Friday, March 26, 2021.

While we look forward to improving health conditions and decreased safety restrictions, we are carefully watching state and local conditions, vaccination progress, and health restrictions and guidelines.

  • North Carolina’s statewide vaccination program is currently working on groups 1 (health care workers) and group 2 (adults 65 and over), with group 3 (frontline essential workers), group 4 (adults at high risk for exposure and increased risk of severe illness), and group 5 (all others) yet to be scheduled.
  • Current CDC recommendations and North Carolina Executive Orders regarding COVID-19 significantly restrict crowd sizes. The state and the Town of Elon have extended restrictions on outdoor gatherings to 25 and indoor gatherings to 10.

Class of 2021

At this time, in consultation with the senior class officers, university leadership, and Elon’s Ready and Resilient Committee, we are considering—depending on health conditions and guidelines—three potential formats for Commencement for the class of 2021 (currently scheduled for the morning of Friday, May 21, 2021):

  1. Virtual Commencement ceremonies with no in-person gatherings for graduates, families, guests, faculty, or staff and live-streamed for all guests.
  2. In-person Commencement ceremonies including graduates only and live-streamed for all guests.
  3. In-person Commencement ceremonies including graduates and a tightly limited number of guests (including limited faculty and staff and perhaps two guests per graduate) and live-streaming for all others.

Delivering the Commencement address to the Class of 2021 will be Daniel J. Watts ’04. Read more here.

Class of 2020

We remain committed to bringing the Class of 2020 together in-person to celebrate their accomplishments.

We will be reaching out to the Class of 2020 officers to restart discussions about possible scenarios, similar to those listed above for the Class of 2021, for in-person commemoration and celebration.

We appreciate your patience and your commitment to keeping this community safe and healthy. Look for an announcement of final Commencement details to be shared with members of the Class of 2020 and 2021 and their families by Friday, March 26, 2021.

Updated commencement details will also be available at as new information becomes available.

Thank you and congratulations on reaching this important milestone!


Jeff Stein

Vice President for Strategic Initiatives & Partnerships
Assistant Professor of English