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Letter from President Hanlon

April 9, 2020

To the Dartmouth community,

It is with a heavy heart that I must announce the need to postpone Dartmouth's Commencement exercises, including graduate and professional school Investiture ceremonies, for the Class of 2020. I had been holding out hope that the COVID-19 pandemic would pass in time for us to proceed with commencement and reunions as planned in June. But it is now clear that the risk of hosting events of this magnitude in mid-June, with students, families, alumni, and friends from all over the world gathering on the Green in such close proximity, is simply too great a risk to take.

Commencement holds great joy and deep meaning to every member of the Dartmouth community, but especially to our seniors and the coupled 50-year reunion class. It is the culmination of our graduating students' lifetimes of focused study—a day to celebrate their academic achievements, the special bonds they've forged during their time at Dartmouth, and the start of what are sure to be extraordinary lives of purpose. And every year, without fail, I am moved when I see the graduating class and the 50th reunion class seated together on the Green at commencement, signifying the strength of the Dartmouth fellowship, the role that our past plays in our present.

Please know that I did not come to this decision lightly. The decision was made in consultation with Dartmouth's COVID-19 Task Force, state and local officials, and other widely respected public health professionals, who were informed not just by their own experience but also by models of the anticipated spread of COVID-19 to project future levels of public health risk.

To the Class of 2020, make no mistake: You will have your day. And that day will be filled with all the pomp and circumstance you so rightly deserve. Vice President of Alumni Relations Cheryl Bascomb has been working diligently with student representatives and colleagues across campus to look at alternative dates for the Class of 2020's commencement. They recommend that we reschedule the ceremony for June 2021. We will be consulting with members of the senior class to determine the ideal date and program. We expect to lock in the specific date by the end of next month, so that students and families can have a full year to plan and make the necessary travel arrangements. Graduate and professional school investiture ceremonies will also be rescheduled for appropriate dates to be determined by the school deans.

Importantly, the postponement of our commencement and investiture ceremonies will in no way delay the conferring of earned degrees in June for our graduates. On June 14 of this year, we will host a virtual event to mark the awarding of both undergraduate and advanced degrees. Details on that special online gathering will be forthcoming in the next few weeks.

Class of 2020, I'm so sorry to have to delay our in-person graduation celebration, but I look forward to the day when we can gather together, again, in good health and good spirits to honor your accomplishments with your family, friends, and the 50-year reunion Class of 1970 by your sides. Your commencement will take on extra-special meaning for all of us next year.

Sincerely,
Philip J. Hanlon '77
President