Wednesday, Feb 17, 2021
Plans include rescheduled Class of 2020 ceremony, disrupted last year by pandemic
by Adam Grybowski
Rider University has announced its intention to hold in-person Commencement ceremonies in May for both the Class of 2021 and the Class of 2020 — as long as New Jersey allows the return to large in-person gatherings by the spring.
In order to abide by health and safety guidelines, Rider will host a number of small ceremonies based on degree and college/school from May 14-16. Graduates will be able to cross the stage and be recognized individually.
Ceremonies for this year’s graduating class, the Class of 2021, are planned for May 15 and 16. Ceremonies for last year’s graduating class, the Class of 2020, are planned for May 16. A joint ceremony for Westminster Choir College’s classes of 2020 and 2021 is planned for May 14. Exact times have yet to be determined. Each ceremony will last approximately 60 minutes.
“We know what an important milestone Commencement is for students and their families,” says Rider’s president, Gregory G. Dell’Omo, Ph.D. “We are working very hard to find creative solutions so we can host these celebrations safely and within compliance of all state and institutional health and safety guidelines.”
Originally scheduled for last May, ceremonies for the Class of 2020 have yet to be held despite multiple efforts to reschedule — a direct result of the shifting restrictions brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.
All of the ceremonies have been planned with the assumption that Rider will be allowed to return to large in-person gatherings by the spring. Should restrictions continue into the spring, plans will need to be re-evaluated.
Rider anticipates seating up to 150 graduates at a time, along with 300 guests, under an outdoor tent. Graduates will sit six feet apart and receive two tickets for guests. The decision to limit tickets was based on the need to stay within state-mandated capacity limits, and all in attendance must wear masks.
“No matter how much we wish we could allow more guests to attend as we normally do, we are bound by state guidelines and our obligation to protect people’s health and safety,” Dell’Omo says.
All ceremonies will be livestreamed on Rider’s website.
The time and location of the Westminster ceremony is still being determined. Princeton University has indicated the ceremony's traditional site, Princeton University Chapel, will not be available for the duration of the spring semester. Rider is currently seeking alternative options, informed by feedback from Westminster's classes of 2020 and 2021.
As more information becomes available, it will be available at rider.edu/commencement.