Commencement activities and Reunion Weekend will not happen in May this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. President Clayton Rose announced the decision in an email to seniors Friday morning and in an email to the campus community Friday afternoon.
“The likelihood is small that the risks from the virus will have diminished sufficiently by May, and given the planning required by the College—and by families and friends—I reluctantly concluded that it is necessary to cancel the May 23 event and celebration,” wrote Rose in his email to the senior class.
Rose made the decision after consulting with other administrators and public health and medical professionals. Rose noted that “nobody has any of the answers” to questions about the potential spread of the virus and duration of the pandemic, but, like dozens of other colleges and universities nationwide, Bowdoin is anticipating the long-term impact of COVID-19 on college activities.
No other NESCAC school has yet announced that its commencement would be cancelled or postponed.
In his emails and in a phone interview with the Orient, Rose was explicit about holding a make-up celebration on campus, but he could not say when.
“The first thing we have to do before we can figure out [Commencement] is be in a place where we know we’re past the crisis,” said Rose. “Then once we can do that, once we’re in that position, then we’ll be able to sort out where we’re going. To do any planning first, it doesn’t make any sense for now.“
Rose is not considering a virtual graduation “as a substitute” for on-campus Commencement, he said.
“But we’re thinking about and trying to figure out what we might be able to do on the 23rd as a way to mark the occasion and acknowledge, again, what everybody’s done, at least as a moment—not as the complete celebration, but as a moment,” he added.
Rose does not know whether the College will host a Senior Week prior to the rescheduled Commencement events, but members of the Class of 2020 will be involved in planning the events.
“I want to provide our seniors and graduating students with the opportunity to come back together in the place that you spent almost four years and be able to celebrate and acknowledge together here in a physical space that’s really meaningful to everybody,” he said.