SUNY New Paltz postpones spring commencement due to outbreak

SUNY New Paltz President Donald P. Christian announced today that the college will postpone its May 2020 commencement ceremonies due to the ongoing COVID-19 situation.

The college will begin planning to reschedule the May 2020 commencement, though no date has been chosen at this time as it is unclear how long the coronavirus pandemic will last. This postponement applies to other end-of-the-academic year celebrations as well. Diplomas will be distributed by mail to graduates upon completion of all requirements for degree conferral. Additional information will be shared as it becomes available.

“This is one of the most painful decisions I have made during my years as president at SUNY New Paltz, and I know other campus leaders feel the same,” President Christian said in an email sent to students, faculty and staff today. “Commencement is a special day for graduates, parents and other family members, and close friends. It is a day to acknowledge the accomplishments of our graduates, the fruits of their years of hard work, and to launch our latest graduates in the next phase of your lives. It is both a completion and a new beginning. Faculty and staff who have worked with graduating students share in that celebration. We are all deeply saddened by the necessity of this decision.”

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The spring celebration had been scheduled to take place over three days, with a graduate ceremony on Friday, May 15, and two undergraduate ceremonies on May 16 and 17.

“The college traditionally welcomes thousands of visitors to campus over the course of our three-day Commencement celebration,” President Christian said. “In light of current federal, state and local guidance related to the COVID-19 outbreak, and the consensus of science and medical experts, we must accept the reality that we would be unable to guarantee the safety of our students, faculty, staff and guests at such gatherings this May.”

This decision follows previous announcements that SUNY New Paltz would join other SUNY and CUNY campuses in offering classes remotely for the remainder of the semester, cancelling campus events through the end of May and encouraging nonessential staff to work from home.

“I must say once again how grateful I am to all students, faculty and staff for your resiliency and creativity in meeting this unprecedented challenge,” said President Christian. “Our collective response to the coronavirus has already helped to slow its spread, and the sacrifices we have made and continue to make are saving lives.”

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