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April 3, 2020

To Our May 2020 Graduates:

I am writing to you regarding our decision to suspend in-person commencements across Rutgers during May. I want you to know that this decision was an extremely difficult and unhappy one to make, despite the clear necessity of keeping our community safe and healthy during this pandemic.

We recognize the profound sadness that disrupting a milestone moment, for which you and so many thousands of Rutgers students have worked so hard, is causing. We know how much your families and friends have looked forward to celebrating your achievements with you. And I know personally how much I have been looking forward to taking part in my final commencement week as president of this remarkable institution.

While we cannot go forward with the in-person May commencements we were planning, the University has formed a working group comprising people from all our locations with faculty, staff, and student perspectives that is looking urgently at alternatives which will allow us to properly salute our graduating students. We are considering the most meaningful ways in which we can celebrate our graduates remotely this spring and, at the same time, exploring the feasibility and options for also holding in-person celebrations at a future date when the public health threat has subsided. Each campus will be soliciting feedback from their May graduates on possible options.

We want to bring people together to salute our graduates. We are committed to finding the best possible solution given the unprecedented constraints we currently face, and recognizing the central part that Commencement plays in the life of every academic community. Please bear in mind that it may be quite some time before we have clarity on what is possible.

I hope you will understand this extremely difficult decision and trust that we will do all we can to give you and your fellow classmates a fitting celebration. You certainly deserve it!


Robert Barchi