March 8, 2021
Roanoke College is eagerly looking forward to honoring the historic accomplishments of the Class of 2020 and the Class of 2021 and there are dedicated teams in place making multiple plans for May Commencement. We are planning for either in-person, if conditions permit, or virtual ceremonies.
At this time, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam’s executive order makes it impossible for Roanoke College to hold our traditional commencement ceremonies and Senior Week activities. The current size limit for our events is 25 in the executive order.
If the current conditions and restrictions remain in place in May, the ceremonies will be virtual. Under current COVID-19 directives, college and university commencement ceremonies are not considered in the same category as sports and entertainment venues.
Class of 2020: In order to allow the best chance of a future in-person event, we are rescheduling the Class of 2020 commencement to Saturday, May 22. This will be the new date, whether the ceremony is virtual or in-person.
Class of 2021: Commencement for the Class of 2021 remains scheduled for Saturday, May 29.
If conditions improve and the governor loosens restrictions for colleges and universities, we plan to hold the in-person commencement ceremonies at the Salem Football Stadium which is in view of the Roanoke College Elizabeth Campus. We had hoped to have our ceremony on the front quad but our space doesn’t accommodate the appropriate physical distancing needed for graduates, faculty, and guests.
The change of venue enables graduates to be on the field, and physically distanced. This venue would also allow each graduate to have up to four guests attend the in-person ceremony and safely distanced. Whether in person or remote, we will be providing live online video coverage of the ceremony for anyone who is unable to attend for any reason.
We are excited to recognize each one of you and your accomplishments at Roanoke College. You are representing Roanoke College in a historic era and history will reflect that you have dealt with the COVID-19 challenge with strength, determination and grace.
Members of the two graduating classes will receive emails from the College with specific information as the dates approach. We are planning senior portrait days for the Class of 2021, and we are asking the graduates of the Class of 2020 to submit photos to the College (details in the email.) These will be used to highlight each graduate if restrictions regarding in-person events necessitate a virtual celebration.
We continue to monitor and plan according to Virginia guidelines regarding large in-person events. We discourage guests from making any non-refundable travel arrangements and appreciate everyone’s patience and understanding.
On April 30 we will communicate a final decision regarding the in-person ceremonies.
Until we see you in person, stay healthy and well!
President Michael Maxey