Class of 2020

June 16, 2021

Dear Class of 2020,

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced yesterday the loosening of many COVID-19 restrictions now that the state has reached the threshold of having seventy percent of its adult population receive at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. This allows us to relax some of the parameters for our celebration of your class this weekend, while still maintaining a safe and healthy environment for all.

Here are the highlights of these changes for your upcoming Commencement celebration:

  • If you have been fully vaccinated, you do not need to wear a mask. All those who have not been fully vaccinated must wear masks, except when crossing the stage.
  • All in attendance must maintain three feet of social distance from those outside of their household when seated.
  • Each graduate may bring a maximum of four (rather than two) guests. Two additional tickets will be added to each graduate’s allotment. You can pick them up together:
    • Where: Reamer Campus Center (first floor, Table 1)
    • When: Saturday, June 19 between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m., and Sunday, June 20 between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m.

As has happened so often during the pandemic, this situation has evolved rapidly. We recognize that it may be difficult for some potential additional guests to attend at this point, but we wanted to get this breaking information to you as quickly as possible in order to accommodate those who might be able to.

Health and Safety Protocols

Any individual attending commencement or related ceremonies will need to supply evidence of one of the following:

  • a completed vaccination series (at least 14 days beyond the last vaccine)
  • proof of COVID-19 illness and recovery within the last 90 days or
  • a negative COVID-19 test (PCR test administered within 72 hours of the event)

Please go to our Commencement website for the latest information, and you can also contact Emily Tong at with any questions.

Commencement Schedule

  • On Saturday, June 19 from 4 - 5:30 p.m. at Bailey Field, the Office of Alumni and Parent Engagement will host the Wine and Cheese reception for the Class of 2020 (class of 2020 alumni only; no guests).
  • On Sunday, June 20 at 10 a.m., Union College will hold an in-person Commencement celebration for the Class of 2020 on Roger Hull Plaza in front of Schaffer Library. Each graduate can bring up to 4 guests.
  • Both events will take place outdoors, rain or shine. Information regarding Commencement weekend is available on the commencement website.

Baccalaureate Celebration

Due to your limited time on campus this weekend, our Baccalaureate celebration is being held virtually. Be sure to check out the brief speeches by your classmates, a speech from Professor Stacie Raucci (Classics) and the student musical performances.

Cap and Gown

Please remember to bring your cap and gown back for the ceremony. If you do not have one, you can purchase them from the bookstore, on the second floor of Reamer Campus Center. The bookstore will be open Saturday, June 19 from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday, June 20 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. The cost is $50 plus tax.

Commencement Details

For the Commencement celebration, please be seated no later than 9:15 a.m. The faculty and student marshals will help each of you find your seats. You will be seated in alphabetical order so that family members and friends will be able to anticipate the moment of your graduation. Please remain in alphabetical order so we will be able to read your name and have photographers record your graduation without error. Please note that no alcoholic beverages are permitted at the ceremony.

After you walk across the stage, please return to your seat and remain there during the rest of the ceremony. At the conclusion of the ceremony, graduates will pass through the Nott Memorial to be congratulated by faculty and staff.

Professional Photographs

GradImages will take three individual pictures of you: before you step up to the stage, as you receive your diploma case, and as you leave the stage. You can remove your mask during these moments. Approximately two weeks after Commencement, GradImages will send you a selection of images you can purchase. Visit the Commencement webpage for more information.

Departmental Gatherings

Following the recessional, post-Commencement departmental gatherings will be held at various outdoor locations. A map detailing these locations is available on the Commencement site under “schedule.”

We are excited to welcome so many of you back for this celebration. See you this weekend!

Best regards,

Strom C. Thacker

Stephen J. and Diane K. Ciesinski Dean of Faculty and

Vice President for Academic Affairs


  • May 11, 2021

    May 11, 2021

    Dear Class of 2020,

    I write with good news regarding plans for our in-person Commencement celebration for the Class of 2020 on June 20, 2021. Recent changes in New York State guidelines now permit us to host guests (up to two per graduating student) at the live ceremony on Roger Hull Plaza, rather than at previously planned separate livestreaming locations elsewhere on campus. The remaining health and safety measures and guidelines identified in the April 15 email from President Harris, Dean Brown-McClure and me remain in place.

    IMPORTANT NOTE: Every graduating student who attends the Commencement ceremony must register for the event by Monday, May 24, 2021. The registration link has already been sent out to the Class of 2020. Only graduates can register their guests. Graduates can come to table 1 on the first floor of Reamer Campus Center (outside the elevator) on Saturday, June 19 from 1 p.m. - 5 p.m., or Sunday, June 20 from 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. to pick up your reserved guest tickets. Note that only graduates can pick up tickets for their registered guests. Guests may not pick up tickets themselves.

    As we have seen throughout the pandemic and are witnessing now, conditions and state guidelines continue to evolve. We will continue to keep you updated about any changes in our plans. In the meantime, please refer to our Commencement website and FAQs for current information. For any Commencement questions not answered there, please contact Emily Tong at

    We are tremendously proud of the commitment to each other that the members of the Union community have demonstrated during this challenging year-plus. Thank you in advance for maintaining that commitment so that we can celebrate the accomplishments of your class in person.

    Best regards,

    Strom Thacker
    Dean of the Faculty and Vice President for Academic Affairs

  • April 15, 2021

    Dear Class of 2020,

    Greetings from campus. We write today with exciting news. On June 20, 2021, Union College will host an outdoor (rain or shine), in-person celebration of the Class of 2020 at 10 a.m. The ceremony will take place in the traditional Commencement location on Roger Hull Plaza, between Schaffer Library and the Nott Memorial. All who were eligible to participate in last year’s Honoring U ceremony, as well as any additional students who have since completed their graduation requirements, are invited to attend.

    Current New York state guidelines limit the size of these kinds of gatherings and require that all who attend supply evidence of a negative COVID-19 test (PCR test administered within 72 hours of the event) or a completed vaccination series (at least 14 days beyond the last vaccine). This means that we will not be able to accommodate outside guests at the ceremony location, but two ticketed guests of each graduate will be welcome to join us at a separate outdoor, on-campus location to view the ceremony. The ceremony will also be livestreamed online for off-campus audiences.

    In addition, we will be hosting post-ceremony academic department and program gatherings at various outdoor locations across campus where smaller groups of graduates, faculty, staff and ticketed guests will be able to visit and take pictures.

    All attendees will be required to register in advance and to observe masking and social distancing guidelines at all campus gatherings.

    You can find more details on our Commencement website and FAQs page. We will update these sites as new information becomes available.

    The past 14 months of the pandemic have brought extraordinary challenges to our Union community. We are so proud of how our community has responded in extraordinary ways to put us in a position to be able to plan for an in-person celebration. While conditions and state and College guidelines always remain subject to change, we are excited to have this opportunity to honor and celebrate the Class of 2020. In the meantime, stay tuned for further details, and we will continue to keep you apprised of any changes.

    We hope all is well with you and look forward to welcoming as many of you to campus as can make it on June 20.

    Best regards,

    David Harris

    Strom Thacker
    Dean of the Faculty and Vice President for Academic Affairs

    Fran’Cee Brown-McClure
    Dean of Students and Vice President for Student Affairs