Commencement ceremonies for the spring 2020 graduating class will be rescheduled if necessary, Kristina M. Johnson, the State University of New York (SUNY) chancellor, wrote in a letter addressed to students on March 19.
“If necessary we will reschedule your commencement to make sure you walk across the stage and we proudly celebrate your accomplishments,” Johnson wrote to seniors in the letter.
The status of commencement for Stony Brook University — which according to the academic calendar is currently scheduled for Friday, May 22 — is uncertain.
In a video posted to the Stony Brook University YouTube page on March 19, Richard Gatteau, Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students, said that although the university has not decided what to do about commencement, it’s considering the possibility of a virtual celebration.
“I know the chancellor just sent a message to all of the students and made a commitment that at some point in time we would gather everyone together and celebrate in some way,” Gatteau said. “It may be not for a while, but we will certainly honor our students.”
In an effort to reduce population density, New York has banned gatherings of more than 50 people and SUNY moved all classes online. Stony Brook University is closing on-campus housing as well, according to a March 17 email. Students were given between 48 and 72 hours to move off campus.
Johnson also confirmed in the letter that students will receive credits or refunds for services underused by the shift to online classes and the canceling of campus activities. She expressed confidence in SUNY’s ability to shift to an online learning platform, which she claims SUNY has worked to improve over the past year.
“While everything may seem different, take comfort in the things that remain the same — studying, completing projects and connecting with each other virtually,” she wrote. “Together we will get through this and come out even stronger. I promise you.”