Syracuse University announces cancellation of May commencement

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SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Syracuse University Chancellor Kent Syverud has announced the cancellation of May’s commencement.

Syverud said the university cannot and will not proceed with on-campus, in-person commencement events.

In response to the COVID-19 health emergency, Syracuse University made the difficult but necessary decision to suspend residential instruction for the remainder of the spring semester. Since that time, faculty and staff from across the University have worked tirelessly to support the transition to quality online instruction, and to safeguard the health and well-being of our Orange family. This work continues, and I’m grateful for those shouldering this unplanned and unprecedented burden.

I’m also grateful for our students and their families. You have demonstrated grace, patience and understanding in your interactions with me and others at Syracuse University. Our students, their health and wellness, and the integrity of their academic experience, will remain our focus and top priority as we work to understand the near- and long-term implication of the coronavirus pandemic for Syracuse University. To be clear, those implications are real and present and will require us to make difficult choices and trade-offs on many fronts. All that said, even in the face of this global health emergency, Syracuse University will always remain a student-focused institution.

Over the past weeks there are two important issues that you’ve asked us to address: our intentions related to reimbursement of unused room and board for those students vacating University housing, and our path forward as it relates to Commencement and other graduation activities. I am writing to address both.

First, Syracuse University will provide a prorated reimbursement of room and board payments to students who vacate University housing. To do so is right and appropriate. We have developed a process for students and families to request room and board refunds. To the extent there is an outstanding balance due on a student’s bursar account, the refund would be applied toward the balance first, before a refund is issued.

Second, while many of us have held out hope that Commencement 2020 could proceed as planned, it has become increasingly apparent that those plans must change. Because of public health guidance, we cannot and will not proceed with on-campus in-person commencement events in May, including school and college convocation ceremonies. I deeply regret this outcome.

I am committed to celebrating and recognizing the class of 2020 in a way that is most meaningful to you—our graduates. I promised you would have the celebration you deserve and we will make good on that promise. Very soon, all members of the class of 2020 will receive a survey from me, soliciting your input as to alternative approaches to celebrating and recognizing your academic achievement. We will act quickly on your feedback and share a plan for alternative commencement celebrations promptly.

These are challenging times for the Syracuse University community, and for families everywhere. I am inspired by the many ways our students, faculty, staff, and alumni have responded—with compassion, empathy, and ingenuity—to this global health emergency. We are still in the early stages of this crisis, and thus new and complex challenges lie ahead. However, I’m confident that we will navigate those challenges together, in a way consistent with the values that define what it means to be Orange.

Chancellor Kent Syverud

This includes school and college convocation ceremonies.

Syverud added that the university will honor its seniors at a later date.

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