President's Message March 2021

Please see the Roanoke College Novel Coronavirus information at

March 8 message from President Maxey:

Dear Maroons,  

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 CommencementWe 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 CampusWe 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 



Class of 2020 Conferring of Degrees

The Conferring of Degrees was broadcast via Facebook Live on Saturday, May 2, 2020, at 11 a.m. ( The video broadcast is visible even for those who don’t have a Facebook account.

This ceremony ensured that students’ degrees are official and that they can enter the job or graduate school market as holders of a college degree.

Roanoke College students finished their spring semester taking classes remotely due to the spread of the COVID-19 virus. The May 2, 2020 ceremony was broadcast via Facebook Live, and featured Roanoke College President Michael C. Maxey; Dr. Richard A. Smith, Vice President and Dean of the College; and The Rev. Christopher M.  Bowen, Timothy L. Pickle Dean of the Chapel. They were joined by the Roanoke College mascot, Rooney. 

During the ceremony, President Maxey spoke to students at length about the campus community’s resilience in the face of the pandemic.

“This virus has disrupted our lives but it cannot wreck our values or our spirits,” Maxey said. 

“It is not often we can claim that, ‘we are part of  history in the making,” Maxey said to the graduates watching online. “But, this degree conferral is history in the making. Its virtual format is historic. The last months are historic. The lack of your presence over the past months is historic. Moving to remote learning is historic. For all of those reasons and many more, you make history. In fact, you are creators of history in this moment.” Read all of Maxey's remarks

Diplomas were mailed to graduates, and President Maxey said he looks forward to hearing the graduates' names called and greeting them at the full commencement ceremony, on Saturday, May 1, 2021.

The Class of 2020 is comprised of 429 graduates from 30 states and 10 countries. Of the 429 graduates, 216 graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree, 133 finished with a Bachelor of Science degree and 80 earned Bachelor of Business Administration degrees. The five most popular majors of the class, in order, are business administration, psychology, communication studies, history and public health studies.

When can I get my cap and gown/can you mail me my cap and gown? We will be sending out an email in late September/early October to formally request gown sizing for the graduates of the Class of 2020; usually, we have regalia pick-up the day before the commencement ceremony, but many graduates noted in the survey that they wished to have their regalia sooner than at a rescheduled ceremony. Your regalia (cap, gown, hood, and tassel) as well as honor cords, if applicable, will be packaged up and sent out in late fall to your mailing address on record (an opportunity to update your address will be included in the form you receive for gown sizing). You will be responsible for bringing back your full regalia for the rescheduled May 1, 2021 commencement ceremony.

When will I receive my diploma? Diplomas were mailed to the home addresses of our graduates. If you did not receive your diploma, please contact the Registrar's Office at 540-375-2211. Diploma frames are available through the online Roanoke College Campus Store