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Commencement updates for the Class of 2020

September 9, 2021 | Class of 2020 Candlelight Speakers / Homecoming Price Increase Oct. 1
June 17, 2021 | Class of 2020 Commencement Update
May 14, 2021 | Class of 2020 Commencement & Reunion Update
April 2, 2021 | Commencement Survey
March 1, 2021 | Update from Ginger Ambler, Vice President for Student Affairs

September 9, 2021

Dear Class of 2020 Graduate,

Here are two quick items for you:

  1. Candlelight Speakers
    • By Friday, September 17, please submit names of one faculty and one staff member that you would like to hear speak to your class at the Candlelight Ceremony (Friday, October 8, 9:30 p.m. in Wren Yard)
  2. Homecoming Registration:
    • Registration for Homecoming and class dance are FREE for the Class of 2020 until Thursday, September 30 at 11:59 pm
    • Starting on Friday, October 1, there will be a fee for both Homecoming and the Class of 2020 dance
    • Register before 11:59 pm on Sept. 30 to take advantage of the free pricing!

Please let us know if you have any questions.

Thank you!

-The Commencement Planning Team

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June 17, 2021

Dear Class of 2020,

We look forward to welcoming you back for your Class of 2020 reunion during Homecoming & Reunion Weekend, Oct. 7-10, 2021! We continue to refine the schedule and are pleased to provide additional details about the weekend!

  • Main Ceremonies
    • We are scheduling two main ceremonies on Sunday, Oct. 10, in order to ensure you can have your name read as you cross the stage.
    • Ceremony times are 9:30 a.m. ET and 2:30 p.m. ET and are broken out by major/school.
    • If your travel plans are not flexible, you will have an opportunity during registration to request to change ceremonies.
    • Class of 2020 graduates unable to attend in person may still request to have your name read by completing the registration form.
  • Schedule
    • Check out the schedule for all Commencement events on the website
    • Continue to check back regularly for any updates
  • Registration
    • Registration is required to attend the main ceremony, request tickets or to have your name read virtually.
    • Registration for the main ceremony will take place July 1-July 31.
    • Registration for other events (Candlelight, Bell-Ringing, Dance) will be part of the Homecoming registration that begins on August 2.
  • Tickets
    • Each graduate may initially request up to four guest tickets through the registration form.
    • You will also be able to indicate if you would like to request any additional tickets that may be available after registration has ended.
    • We will notify you in early August if you are able to receive additional tickets.
    • Tickets are electronic and will be emailed to graduates in early October. You may then forward the tickets to your guests to display on their phone, or they may print out their tickets to be scanned.
    • Each ticket scans only once, so electronic tickets may not be duplicated.
  • Regalia
    • Regalia is available to order online now through Sept. 1, 2021.
    • For doctoral students wishing to purchase regalia, the deadline is August 20, 2021.
    • Learn more about regalia (purchasing, when to wear) on the Commencement website.

We look forward to celebrating you in person in October! Please send any questions you have to [[commencement]] and continue to review for the latest updates.


The Commencement Planning Team

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May 14, 2021

Dear Class of 2020,

I write to you this morning with good news! Mark your calendars because the Class of 2020 will gather for a full, in-person Commencement experience over Homecoming & Reunion Weekend, Oct. 7-10, 2021.

In response to the thoughtful feedback your class provided, the Commencement Committee is delighted to be planning a robust weekend of celebration for your class this fall. Working closely with the William & Mary Alumni Association, the weekend will feature the signature Commencement traditions your class most wants to experience in person. You will also have the opportunity to enjoy other festivities during the weekend — for the Class of 2020 it will be a Homecoming like no other! 

I have included below the days on which the Commencement traditions will occur so that you and your families can plan your trip accordingly (please note that the times of these events are still being solidified):

  • Bell Ringing: Oct. 7-9, 2021
  • Candlelight Ceremony: Oct. 8, 2021
  • Class of 2020 Dance/Social: Oct. 8, 2021
  • Walk Across Campus: Oct. 10, 2021
  • Commencement Ceremony: Oct. 10, 2021 (late morning)

A full schedule of weekend events is forthcoming. 

As always, the health and well-being of our entire community is our top priority. We will continue to follow the guidance from the commonwealth for in-person gatherings to ensure that everyone can gather together safely.

I hope this news brings you joy and excitement that you will be able to reunite on campus for a memorable Commencement weekend. Stay tuned for another communication with more details in the coming weeks.


Ginger Ambler

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April 2, 2021

Dear W&M Class of 2020,

Please take a moment to complete this brief survey about Commencement Weekend for the Class of 2020. We’d like to hear from as many of you as possible, so please spread the word to fellow classmates who may not be checking their W&M email frequently. The survey includes three (3) potential new dates (fall, early spring, late spring). We are looking at these possible future dates in order to give enough time for you and your guests to adjust work schedules and make travel arrangements. We’re interested in hearing your feedback so we can make plans for those of you who wish to return! The survey will remain open until Friday, April 23.

As you may have heard, the governor’s guidelines for graduation exercises changed in mid-March, making it more conducive to holding ceremonies in the spring. However, we did not include May 2021 as a possible date for a few reasons.

  • Before the new guidelines came out, the Commencement Policy Committee agreed that we don’t want to reschedule too soon and risk yet another postponement for the Class of 2020.
  • We know that many graduates and their families had already cancelled travel and hotel plans and re-adjusted their work schedules by the time the guidelines changed.
  • Health conditions continue to evolve, and we are mindful that any plans we make for a Class of 2020 return in the spring could still be altered if COVID-19 conditions trend in the wrong direction.

We’ve heard from so many members of the Class of 2020 and their families about how important it is to them to have an in-person Commencement Weekend. We will do what we can to make sure those who wish to return have a meaningful experience and opportunity to reunite with fellow classmates.

We will notify you and your families once we have a plan in place.


The Commencement Planning Team

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March 1, 2021

Dear W&M Class of 2020,

I write to you today with an important update concerning Commencement Weekend. Representatives from across the university have spoken at length about the many ways alumni from the Class of 2020 can come back to campus and safely gather together to take part in the beloved in-person Commencement traditions that have been postponed since last May. 

The Commonwealth of Virginia recently shared guidance with institutions specifically about commencement ceremonies; that guidance affirmed strict limits on the number of people who can congregate both indoors and outdoors. Unfortunately, the guidance makes clear that an in-person gathering of our Class of 2020 degree candidates and families simply will not be possible this May. With the status of the pandemic and vaccine distribution still uncertain for summer and early fall (and not wanting to risk our having to reschedule your celebration a fourth time), the Commencement Committee is excited to plan for your return in March 2022.  

In the coming weeks, we will be sending a survey to the Class of 2020 to determine preferred dates next March for an in-person Commencement Weekend. We want to know how many of you would plan to return to Williamsburg for the event. We will also ask about which activities you are most interested in seeing as part of your graduation/reunion gathering on campus. Among those traditions we will ask about are socials/dances, Wren Bell ringing, the Candlelight Ceremony and the Walk Across Campus.

It has been a painstaking planning process for the Commencement Committee, and it is beyond discouraging for us to be postponing your in-person gathering once again. At the same time, I trust you understand the circumstances behind our decision. Please know that our priority remains the same — we are committed to doing everything we can to preserve Commencement traditions for your class, and we’ll make it as celebratory and memorable as possible when it is safe for everyone to return to campus. 

Please be on the lookout for our survey in the coming weeks. In the meantime, you can continue to visit our Commencement website for updated information.

Wishing each of you health and happiness. 


Ginger Ambler
Chair, Commencement Committee
Vice President for Student Affairs

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