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4/16/2020 - Caltech's 126th Commencement

A Message From Caltech President Thomas F. Rosenbaum

To: The Caltech Community
From: Thomas F. Rosenbaum, President; David A. Tirrell, Provost

Earlier today, we announced to Caltech's 2020 graduates that the 126th commencement will be converted to a two-part celebration: a virtual conferring of degrees and graduation ceremony on June 12, followed by an in-person event when it is safe to do so. That message appears below.

Commencement is a cherished tradition and an event that brings all of campus together to celebrate our students' individual and shared achievements. It provides us with an annual opportunity to pause and reflect on the contributions Caltech makes not only through the work that we advance in our laboratories and in our offices, but also through the people we educate, train, and prepare to confront society's greatest challenges. This decision, like so many others of the past few weeks, was a difficult one to make. At the same time, we know that our community will rise to the occasion with ingenuity and fortitude. We look forward to a meaningful recognition of the manifold accomplishments of Caltech's 2020 graduates and the opportunity to welcome them as the Institute's newest alumni.

To: Caltech's 2020 Graduates
From: Thomas F. Rosenbaum, President; David A. Tirrell, Provost
Date: April 16, 2020
Re: Caltech's 126th Commencement

Caltech's annual commencement ceremony is among the most treasured Institute traditions, an opportunity for us to celebrate your extraordinary achievements in the company of classmates, professors, trustees, Institute and community leaders, your families, and your friends. It is an occasion the entire community eagerly awaits, and an event for which they proudly gather to cheer you and to wish you well on your new adventures.

With appreciation for the significance of this milestone ceremony, in recognition of the disruption the novel coronavirus has had on our lives, and following close consultation with representatives from your graduating class, we have restructured the June commencement ceremony into a two-part celebration for the 2020 graduates. First, the Institute will hold a virtual degree conferral and graduation ceremony on Friday, June 12; then, at a later date, the Institute will hold an in-person celebration for the 2020 graduates.

For both the virtual and in-person celebrations, we will continue to work closely with representatives from our graduating bachelor's, master's, and doctoral programs to shape these events in a manner that is meaningful and personal to you, your families, and our entire campus community. Joe Shepherd, vice president for student affairs, and deans Kevin Gilmartin and Doug Rees already have begun working with student leaders. They will formalize these interactions by standing up a committee comprised of representatives from the 2020 graduates, faculty, and staff, who together will be charged with creating two distinct celebrations that capitalize on the unique capabilities of a virtual community gathering and then, later, an on-campus event. The deans will share more details as plans are finalized.

While this decision is disappointing, the physical distancing required by the coronavirus pandemic compels us to modify our traditions, routines, and expectations for the safety of all involved. We now must forge a new path together and create new traditions that honor your Caltech legacy. We are confident that the creative and accomplished members of the Caltech community will rise to the challenge. We look forward to marking this milestone with you in spirit on June 12 and in person as soon as we safely can.