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Wednesday March 22nd

Here's the in-person commencement schedule for the class of 2021

Graduating seniors sit in the crowd during UNC's 2019 spring commencement ceremony.
Buy Photos Graduating seniors sit in the crowd during UNC's 2019 spring commencement ceremony. UNC announced plans for a 2021 commencement ceremony that will include social distancing and other safety precautions.

Updated April 1, 11:50 a.m.: The class of 2021 will be able to attend one of five in-person commencement ceremonies over three days in May, depending on students' department or school. 

Over 5,000 students have registered to attend a ceremony in Kenan Stadium, Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz said in a campus email Thursday. Registration for the ceremonies is now closed. Students will receive the number of guest tickets they registered for, up to four. The University is unable to grant additional guest ticket requests. 

Here is the commencement schedule:

Ceremony one, 4 p.m., Friday, May 14

  • Adams School of Dentistry
  • Eshelman School of Pharmacy
  • Gillings School of Global Public Health
  • School of Nursing
  • School of Medicine
  • School of Social Work

Ceremony two, 9 a.m., Saturday, May 15

  • Hussman School of Journalism and Media
  • School of Education
  • College of Arts & Sciences — undergraduate bachelor of arts in biology, bachelor of science in biology, bachelor of science in biomedical and health sciences engineering  

Ceremony three, 2 p.m., Saturday, May 15

  • Kenan-Flagler Business School 
  • School of Information and Library Science
  • School of Government
  • School of Law

Ceremony four, 9 a.m., Sunday, May 16

  • College of Arts & Sciences — fine arts and humanities and social sciences

Ceremony five, 2 p.m., Sunday, May 16

  • College of Arts & Sciences — natural sciences and mathematics
    (Some departments in the natural sciences are specifically included in ceremony two)

Students enrolled in The Graduate School will be assigned to a ceremony corresponding with their school or department of study. The Graduate School will host a virtual doctoral hooding celebration

Updated 5:45 p.m.: The class of 2020 will be able to attend a graduation ceremony in Kenan Stadium on Oct. 10 as part of a reunion and commencement weekend, Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz said in an email to the class Friday. 

This follows Thursday's announcement that the class of 2021 will have in-person commencement ceremonies in May. 

The reunion and commencement weekend is intended to celebrate May, August and December 2020 graduates. 

Assuming that gathering restrictions in North Carolina are lifted, the University hopes to host events for the weekend including: 

  • Special recognition during the UNC vs. Florida State football game on Oct. 9
  • A "Carolina Football watch party experience" as there will be a limited number of game tickets available
  • Bell Tower climb
  • "A tassel-turning ceremony like no-other" on Oct. 10 

"Once again, we have heard you. And we promise that your weekend this fall – a historic first on our campus – will be worth the long wait you have endured for one more special Carolina experience with your classmates, families and loved ones," Guskiewicz said in the email. 

The class of 2021 will have the option of attending an in-person commencement ceremony this spring, Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz said in a campus email Thursday

The University will hold multiple in-person ceremonies on May 14, 15 and 16 in Kenan Stadium, which will be live-streamed. The ceremonies will be grouped by school or department. 

Graduates are allowed to bring two guests to the ceremony. To attend, graduates must register by March 18. The schedule for the ceremonies will be released after registration closes. 

All ceremonies will feature a virtual address from commencement speakers Dr. Anthony Fauci and Kizzmekia Corbett, a UNC graduate and lead scientist in the development of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. 

After each ceremony, the stadium will close for cleaning. The ceremony will not include a processional to comply with COVID-19 community standards, and to limit crowd size, faculty are asked to watch the ceremony by live stream. 

Guskiewicz said this decision follows consultation with University leaders, the Orange County Health Department and the class of 2021, which "overwhelmingly" reported wanting to attend an in-person event. 

"We are doing everything we can to make that happen, especially at the end of such a tough academic year. We also know that some graduates prefer a virtual event, and we will livestream the ceremony for those who would rather watch it from home," Guskiewicz said in the email. 

For the class of 2020, whose commencement ceremony was postponed last March, the University plans to host a "reunion/commencement type of weekend" on Oct. 9 and 10 in Chapel Hill. The class of 2020 received this announcement in an email Wednesday, stating that these plans will be "in lieu of a traditional ceremony at Kenan Stadium." 

Members of the class of 2020 have already created an online petition for the class to have a graduation ceremony with over 200 signatures. 

"Graduation is a huge milestone for many, and it would be remiss to sweep these students under the rug," the petition states. 

For doctoral graduates in Graduate School, UNC will hold a virtual hooding ceremony for individuals who earned their doctorates between August 2019 and May 2021. The virtual ceremony will be available to watch on May 15 at 1 p.m. 

"Graduate students in the class of 2021 who wish to attend an in-person celebration should register to attend their program/school ceremony in Kenan Stadium," Guskiewicz said in the email. 

The 2021 commencement plans could be modified based on local and state ordinances. UNC will release any changes to these plans no later than April 16, Guskiewicz said. 


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