April 7, 2020

UChicago Cancels On-Campus Convocation

Bond Chapel

Lee Harris / The Chicago Maroon

The University will not host convocation on campus this year, President Robert Zimmer and Provost Ka Yee Lee announced in a campus-wide email today. In its place, a virtual convocation will be held for graduating students. 

“Given the current guidance from the CDC, other public health officials, and our own faculty and physicians working on the forefront of the COVID-19 response, and the understanding of the trajectory of the pandemic, it is not practical or responsible to proceed with planning an in-person gathering of more than 15,000 people,” they wrote. 

Zimmer and Lee said that the University will host a virtual convocation on June 13 in place of a ceremony on campus. “We are also prepared to deliver the physical diploma to each student who receives the degree as soon as possible thereafter,” they wrote. 

Zimmer and Lee also invited members of the Class of 2020 to “participate fully” in next year’s convocation ceremonies. 

“We will use this opportunity for a special acknowledgement and celebration of the accomplishments of 2020 graduates in the presence of faculty, students’ families, and the broader community.”

In an email to fourth-years, Dean of the College John Boyer echoed this invitation.

“We will also hold distinct celebratory events for members of the Class of 2020 who accept the University’s invitation to return to campus in June 2021 and participate fully in the 534th Convocation ceremonies,” he wrote in his email. 

This year’s scheduled Class Day Speaker was Otis Brawley (S.B. ’81, M.D. ’85), former chief medical and scientific officer of the American Cancer Society. The University has not announced whether he will speak at the virtual ceremony. 

“Students and faculty will hear from your deans and deans of students as plans for virtual or in-person activities for diploma ceremonies develop,” Zimmer and Lee said. Students can view these developments on the Convocation website. 

Many other universities have already cancelled or postponed in-person graduation ceremonies due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Yale University cancelled its commencement scheduled for May, and Harvard University will host a virtual commencement at the end of May. Brown University has postponed its ceremony, and University of Pennsylvania has cancelled its commencement.