SUNY New Paltz holds dual commencement weekends

SUNY New Paltz commencement in 2018. (Photo by Robin Weinstein)

SUNY New Paltz hosted 14 smaller, shorter in-person commencement ceremonies on May 14, 15 and 16, to recognize and salute undergraduate and graduate students who graduated in December 2020 and January 2021, and candidates who will complete their degrees in May and August 2021.

“We recognize the achievement of students who have completed the hard academic work of earning a degree, especially during these last 14 months of remote learning and a very different kind of academic experience,” said president Donald Christian. “You will always be known as one of the classes that graduated in the midst of the coronavirus. I would encourage you to see this as a struggle that you have overcome, and therefore, a life experience that will strengthen you for the struggles and opportunities that lie ahead.”


SUNY New Paltz’s 2021 commencement celebration will continue next weekend, May 22 and 23, with special in-person ceremonies for December 2019, January 2020, May 2020 and August 2020 graduates who were unable to participate in an in-person ceremony last year due to the pandemic.

Nearly 1,100 students and graduates participated in these ceremonies on the Old Main Quadrangle over the course of the three-day weekend. All ceremonies included masking and social distancing. Guests were not invited to attend due to in-person event capacity limits, but all ceremonies were live-streamed and will remain available for on-demand viewing at this link.

The Friday, May 14 and Saturday, May 15 commencement ceremonies recognized undergraduate students from the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences and the Schools of Business, Education, Fine & Performing Arts and Science & Engineering, and the Sunday, May 16, ceremonies recognized graduate students from the 50+ graduate-level programs available at New Paltz.

In total, approximately 2,400 degrees and advanced certificates were conferred across the December 2020 and January, May and August 2021 terms.

SUNY New Paltz has named Rachel Brainerd (Visual Arts) of Poughkeepsie the valedictorian of the Class of 2021 and Sery Pak (Biology) of Orangeburg the salutatorian.

SUNY New Paltz’s commencement ceremonies will be webcast online at