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University plans in-person commencements for Class of 2020

The Seton Hall University Class of 2020 will have three in-person commencement ceremonies this spring, the Provost’s office announced in an email to graduates on Thursday.

Provost announced three commencement ceremonies in April for Class of 2020 (Photo by Jillian Cancela)

Each of the three ceremonies plans to accommodate 115 graduates, who are allowed two guests each, Provost Katia Passerini said. Baccalaureate, master’s and doctoral graduates will attend either the ceremony on Friday, April 30, or one of two on Saturday, May 1.

Graduates will indicate which ceremony they wish to attend in future communications.

“We know this is not the traditional experience you deserve and we all want for you,” Passerini said. “We are making the best effort given student preferences, government guidance, the health and safety of attendees, and the importance of marking this special occasion.”

The ceremonies, which will take place on the Galleon Lawn at the South Orange campus, will accommodate social distancing by seating graduates with their two guests, according to Passerini.

The ceremony will be recorded and telecasted, Passerini said.

At the time of the announcement, New Jersey guidelines limited outdoor gatherings to 500 people. However, due to rising cases, this number will be reduced to 150 effective Nov. 23, Gov. Phil Murphy announced Monday.

Murphy also did not rule out another statewide lockdown in the near future.

It is unclear what plans the University has for the ceremonies if this limit is not increased by the planned dates.

“We continue to monitor public health statistics, government guidance, and will adjust our programming and precautions as necessary when we are closer to the actual date,” University spokesperson Laurie Pine said. “As we have seen, the pandemic continues to rapidly evolve, as does government guidance and the prospect of a vaccine.”

Pine said the University would “make every effort” to accommodate all students who graduated between August 2019 and May 2020 and wish to attend the ceremonies.

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“We will increase the number of ceremonies as needed,” Pine said. “We continue to conduct all of our planning and programming with the health and safety of our entire community foremost in mind.”

The University is currently developing plans for commencement for the Class of 2021, according to Pine.
Daniel O’Connor can be reached at Find him on Twitter @itsDanOConnor


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