Dear UVM Community, I had the unfortunate duty today to notify our graduating students that this May’s commencement festivities will no longer be able to take place as originally planned, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Following is the note I sent. We will find another way to celebrate, but I imagine our entire community shares in some way the profound disappointment our graduating students must feel.


Dear Graduating Students,

You have accomplished a great deal in your time at the University of Vermont. You have developed expertise in your discipline, made life-long friends, found your place as a member of our community, and expanded your thinking as a global citizen.

I understand the deep and lasting significance of commencement and the celebration it represents of all that you have accomplished. Unfortunately, this pandemic changes what is possible for your commencement celebration. I share your disappointment as I am forced to announce that commencement will not occur on May 17 in the manner planned.

Over 60% of our graduating students completed our survey asking how you would like to experience your commencement. Thank you for responding and sharing your personal stories as well as your preferences for what a re-envisioned commencement might look like. We are using your input to help inform the best way to acknowledge and celebrate this important milestone. You will be hearing more soon.

This was to be my first UVM commencement, starting with your graduating class. While this isn’t the send-off we anticipated, and it certainly isn’t the send-off you deserve, I know you will move through the next several months with determination and optimism. And as plans for an alternative commencement unfold, I’d like to find a way for us to informally share our individual celebrations in May so that we can be together from afar. Stay tuned, Catamounts!

With best wishes,
Suresh Garimella, President
University of Vermont