President Hanlon on Commencement Changes Due to Pandemic

News subtitle

Undergraduate and graduate degrees to be conferred virtually; commencement ceremony postponed.

Dartmouth Hall
(Photo by Eli Burakian ’00) 

The students graduating from undergraduate and graduate schools at Dartmouth will receive their degrees in June, but not on the Green to the applause of 12,000 family, friends, and alumni, President Philip J. Hanlon ’77 said today.

“It is with a heavy heart that I must announce the need to postpone Dartmouth’s Commencement exercises, including graduate and professional school Investiture ceremonies, for the Class of 2020,” President Hanlon wrote in an email to the future graduates and to the Dartmouth community.

“I had been holding out hope that the COVID-19 pandemic would pass in time for us to proceed with commencement and reunions as planned in June. But it is now clear that the risk of hosting events of this magnitude in mid-June, with students, families, alumni, and friends from all over the world gathering on the Green in such close proximity, is simply too great a risk to take.”

The 2020 graduates will get their opportunity to celebrate on the Green in June 2021, alongside the 50th reunion Class of 1970, in a ceremony sure to be both poignant and spirited, President Hanlon said. 

“To the Class of 2020, make no mistake: You will have your day. And that day will be filled with all the pomp and circumstance you so rightly deserve,” Hanlon wrote. “Your commencement will take on extra-special meaning for all of us next year.”

Degrees will be conferred on June 14 this year in a virtual ceremony, the details of which are still in the works.

Hanlon told alumni expecting to travel to Hanover this summer for reunions that the alumni relations team will work with each reunion class to develop virtual programming in lieu of in-person gatherings.

“As an alumnus, I know how important reunions are to all of you,” he wrote.

In mid-March, Dartmouth announced that all undergraduate and graduate spring term classes would be conducted remotely for the 10-week term, which began on March 30. A decision hasn’t been made yet on summer term, which begins on June 25. All summer term international programs for undergraduates have been suspended for the full term, and domestic summer term programs are suspended through the month of July.

For the latest information on Dartmouth’s response to the pandemic, including visit the COVID-19 website.

Susan Boutwell can be reached at

Susan J. Boutwell