Hudson Valley College Commencements: What You Need to Know

Adobe Stock | Photo by mnirat

Local institutions of higher learning plan in-person, hybrid, and remote commencement ceremonies to commemorate the graduating class of 2021.

By Lucy Posner, Grace Maeda, and Raphael Beretta

The past year has been anything but ordinary for college students in the Hudson Valley. At these in-person and virtual commencement ceremonies, the graduating classes of 2021 will be recognized for their achievements. Check college websites for additional information on events, and visit our boutique hotels guide for possible accommodations.

Bard's Fisher Center | Wikimedia Commons, Photo by Daniel Case
Bard’s Fisher Center | Wikimedia Commons, Photo by Daniel Case

Bard College

Bard will be holding an in-person commencement ceremony for the class of 2021 on Saturday, May 29. The ceremony will be for students only, and no guests will be permitted. 

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Commencement Speaker: Patrick Gaspard, former president of the Open Society Foundations (OSF)

Marist College

Marist College will hold an in-person commencement ceremony for the Class of 2021 on Memorial Day weekend. At this time, a traditional undergraduate ceremony is planned to be held in its entirety on Sunday, May 30. Should regulations change, additional ceremonies will be held on Monday, May 31. 

Mount Saint Mary College Campus Commencement
Photo by Lee Ferris

Mount Saint Mary College

Mount Saint Mary College will hold several in-person ceremonies on the Dominican Center Field at the Mount Saint Mary campus on Friday, May 21 and Saturday, May 22. Nursing students will commence on Friday, May 21 at 11 a.m. All other class of 2021 students will celebrate the end of their college experience at either 10 a.m. or 2 p.m. on Saturday, May 22. Graduation times will be assigned alphabetically, and each student will be allowed up to two guests. 

The class of 2020 will also be invited back to campus for a traditional commencement ceremony. Class of 2020 nursing graduates will commence at 11 a.m. on May 21. All other class of 2020 graduates will commence at 1 p.m. on May 23.

Rensselear Polytechnic Institute
Photo courtesy of Rensselear Polytechnic Institute

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

All 2021 graduates, as well as August 2020 and December 2020 graduates, will be able to participate in this year’s in-person commencement ceremony. The outdoor ceremony will be held on Saturday, May 22 at East Campus Athletic Village stadium. The in-person ceremony will be for students only, but a live-stream of the ceremony will be available for families and friends of the graduates.  

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Commencement Speakers: Panel discussion between Dr. Anthony Fauci,  the Honorable Ashton Carter, Sir Paul Nurse, and Dr. John L. Anderson

Sarah Lawrence College

Both undergraduate and graduate commencement ceremonies will be held virtually and live-streamed for all to participate. Undergraduates will be recognized on Friday, May 14 at 11 a.m., while the graduate commencement will be held on Saturday, May 15 at 11 a.m. 

Commencement Speaker: Congressman Jamaal Bowman of New York’s 16th District

The Atrium at SUNY New Paltz | Wikimedia Commons, Photo by Crz4mets2

SUNY New Paltz 

SUNY New Paltz will hold a series of smaller, shorter in-person ceremonies for 2021 graduates from May 14-16, and for 2020 graduates from May 22-23. Both will be held on the Old Main Quad rain or shine and will have a maximum of 200 participants each. Each ceremony will be roughly 30 minutes in length. Students and graduates will be assigned to time slots based on their academic majors. 

SUNY Rockland

Rockland Community College plans to hold both a virtual ceremony and a modified in-person celebration on May 20, 2021. All graduating students will be invited on campus for a “drive-in movie style” celebration on the main campus in Suffern. All students must RSVP in order to attend, and guests will not be permitted. 

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Commencement Speaker: Dr. Linda Garcia of The University of Texas at Austin (UT)

Macdonald DeWitt Library at SUNY Ulster Stone Ridge Campus | Wikimedia Commons, Photo by Boliver19

SUNY Ulster

SUNY Ulster will offer several commencement options for graduating students on Saturday, May 15, 2021. At 9 a.m., a pre-recorded virtual commencement will be available for graduating students and guests. It can be viewed from any remote location from SUNY Ulster’s YouTube Channel and through Facebook Watch Party, and will remain on YouTube for repeat viewings after the event concludes.

SUNY Ulster President Alan P. Roberts will host a drive-through diploma ceremony on the Stone Ridge Campus from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Social distancing and other health safety protocols outlined by the CDC will be followed. For graduates who choose to participate in the “Diploma Deliver” option, President Roberts will visit the homes of graduates to hand-deliver diplomas to those graduates who choose such. President Roberts will start delivering diplomas after the drive-through ceremony and will continue deliveries over the following days. All social distancing and safety protocols will be observed. 

SUNY Westchester

Westchester Community College will hold a virtual ceremony for all August 2020, December 2020, and May 2021 graduates on Thursday, May 13. Commencement will begin at 6 p.m. and is expected to be between 60 and 90 minutes, not including the congratulatory comments. Visit SUNY Westchester’s website for additional information on how to watch.

Commencement Speakers (pre-recorded): Chancellor Jim Malatras and Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul

The College of Saint Rose

The College of Saint Rose will celebrate the class of 2020 and the class of 2021 in three commencement ceremonies at the Times Union Center in Albany. A ceremony for graduate students in the class of 2021 will be held on Friday, May 7 at 7 p.m. Undergraduates in the class of 2021 will commence on Saturday, May 8 at 10 a.m. Additionally, all graduate and undergraduate students in the class of 2020 will celebrate on Saturday, May 8 at 3 p.m. Each graduating student is allowed two guests to adhere to the Times Union Center’s maximum capacity of 1,300 people. If graduates cannot attend, their names will be read at the end of the livestream.

All commencement attendees must present a negative PCR COVID-19 test (conducted within 72 hours of the day of the event) and a photo ID in order to gain entry to the building. All attendees will also receive temperature checks before being permitted to enter.

Culinary Institute of America at Hyde Park
Photo courtesy of the Culinary Institute of America

The Culinary Institute of America

The Culinary Institute of America will hold two virtual commencement ceremonies on May 6. Associate degree students from the class of 2021 will be celebrated on May 6 at 5 p.m. Students earning Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees will be recognized on May 6 at 7 p.m. Graduates will receive their official Zoom invitations via their CIA email. 

Commencement Speakers: Thomas Keller and Phillip H. Jones

University at Albany

The University at Albany offers a unique hybrid approach to its graduation celebrations. The Great Dane Graduation Experience will be a ‘moving commencement’ in which graduates walk through the open-air Tom & Mary Casey Stadium concourse at assigned times with up to four guests. The experience will last around 20 minutes and will culminate in a formal crossing of the stage. The stage crossing will be live-streamed for viewing by extended family and friends. Time slots for The Great Dane Experience will be available to both the classes of 2020 and 2021 between May 15 and May 21. A virtual commencement ceremony will also be offered to all graduates and their families on May 20 at 7 p.m.  It will include traditional congratulatory messages from the UAlbany community and the official conferral of academic degrees, along with some surprises along the way.

the U.S. Military Academy at West Point Commencement
Photo courtesy of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point

United States Military Academy at West Point

The United States Military Academy at West Point will have an in-person commencement ceremony on Friday, May 22. The Historic Thayer Hotel at West Point is currently sold out for graduation weekend. Call 845.446.4731 to be added to the waitlist. 

Vassar College

Vassar College plans to host an in-person commencement ceremony on June 6 for 2021 graduates, including students who are studying remotely and wish to return to campus. Guests will not be allowed to attend commencement. However, the college will welcome family and friends to campus during assigned move-out times on June 6-7. Students and guests may pose at special photo opportunities stationed around campus and enjoy unstructured time when the campus will be open to explore. 

Commencement Speaker: Jessica O. Matthews of Uncharted Power

Related: How Hudson Valley Colleges Are Dealing With the COVID-19 Crisis

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