UR’s on-campus commencement has been cancelled, according to a March 19 email sent out from University President Sarah Mangelsdorf. 

It is uncertain what will replace the celebrations originally planned for May. Mangelsdorf indicated that she is considering the options for a “virtual University-wide event.” She also promised in the email that UR “will have an on-campus celebration in the future.”

This latest development is one of many changes that UR has put in place in light of the COVID-19 outbreak, to adhere to social distancing practices.

The decision was made in the midst of uncertainty about what future conditions will look like, Mangelsdorf wrote. 

“[I] talked with our deans, our doctors, and our epidemiologists. Not a single one has been able to tell me definitively what things will be like in May.”

Many students in the College of Arts, Science, and Engineering did not receive the message at the same time as the rest of the email list, and learned of the cancellation through other channels, like a Facebook post in Overheard at Rochester that screen-shotted a copy of the email that was sent to a parent.

The email was later sent to all undergraduate students, citing a technical issue as the cause for the delay. (Later, a similar discrepancy occurred with an email about changes to this semester’s grading system.)

SA President and senior Jamal Holtz sent out his own email about the changes to all River Campus undergraduates later that day. He said that the delay in Mangelsdorf’s announcement was an IT error, not administrative negligence. 

Holtz wrote more about the rationale behind the decision. The Center for Disease recommends that all events nationwide should be limited to 10 people for the next eight weeks, a time frame that overlaps with the planned commencement date. 

Holtz’s email detailed another development: A committee will be formed, tasked with figuring out what the commencement celebration will become. Holtz will be a part of this committee. 

He ended his email with a pledge to hold an in-person graduation celebration for the Class of 2020. 



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