Virtual Convocation with “Limited” In-Person, Distanced Diploma Ceremonies for Class of 2021

The verbal conferring of degrees will take place remotely, while graduates will likely receive their diplomas at a distanced, in-person ceremony. The College will fund academic regalia for fourth-years.


The University of Chicago

The Convocation Procession in front of Edward H. Levi Hall, on the Main Quadrangle, during the 533rd Convocation. The Procession was previously recorded due to the virtual nature of the event.

By Caroline Kubzansky, Managing Editor ('20-'21)

Convocation for the Class of 2021 will take place online, while the College tentatively plans to hold diploma ceremonies as “a limited in-person event.”  

University President Robert Zimmer announced the news to the campus community in an email Monday morning, saying that public health concerns prohibited the University from hosting such a large event.

“It is not practical or safe to proceed with planning an in-person gathering of several thousand people,” the email said.

2021 graduates will receive their diplomas at in-person ceremonies, however. If public health requirements remain steady, these ceremonies will only be open to graduating students, participating faculty, and staff.

In a separate email to the Class of 2021, Dean of the College John Boyer emphasized the ceremonial element of the planned in-person events. 

“The College is delighted that the University of Chicago is able to hold in-person diploma ceremonies for the Class of 2021, in accordance with health and safety protocols,” he wrote.

Boyer also announced that the College will cover the cost of the entire Class of 2021’s academic regalia. 

Convocation activities are currently scheduled for the weekend of June 12. Chicago’s COVID-19 vaccination campaign is scheduled to begin phase 2 on May 31. During phase 2, members of the general population older than 16—including most of the graduating class of 2021 and other University members—will be eligible for the vaccine.

Despite the planning for in-person ceremonies, Zimmer also said that 2021 graduates’ families and guests should not come to Chicago. 

“We strongly discourage families and guests from traveling to campus as we will be unable to accommodate their presence at the diploma ceremonies,” the email said, before acknowledging that many graduating students and families would likely be disappointed with this decision.

“The decisions we make now are not optimal, but they are necessary when considering our responsibility to one another and to the broader communities of which we are a part,” Zimmer wrote. “Our plan is intended to provide as much of the distinctive Convocation experience as is safe to contemplate given the uncertainty of the months ahead.”