Union to host in-person commencement for Class of 2021

Publication Date

The College has announced plans to host an in-person commencement ceremony for the Class of 2021 at 10 a.m. on Sunday, June 13, on Hull (Library) Plaza.

Nearly 500 students are expected to receive degrees during Union’s 227th Commencement, which will be held outdoors rain or shine.

All graduates will be required to follow appropriate health and safety measures in accordance with New York state guidance. This includes proof of a negative COVID-19 test and/or a completed vaccination series (at least 14 days beyond the last vaccine), masking and physical distancing.

Union students show off their diplomas after receiving them

Due to limits on crowd size, each student will be allowed two tickets for family and friends to watch the celebration, which will be broadcast at outdoor, on-campus satellite locations. The ceremony will also be livestreamed for off-campus audiences.

There also will be post-commencement academic department and program gatherings at various outdoor locations across campus. Smaller groups of graduates, faculty, staff and ticketed guests will be able to visit and take pictures.

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

“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,” President David R. Harris said in an email to the Class of 2021. He was joined by Strom Thacker, the Stephen J. and Diane K. Ciesinski Dean of Faculty and Vice President for Academic Affairs, and Fran'Cee Brown-McClure, vice president for Student Affairs and Dean of Students.

“We are excited to have this opportunity to honor and celebrate the Class of 2021. In the meantime, stay tuned for further details, and we will continue to keep you apprised of any changes.”

The featured speaker will be Susanne J. Goldie ’84, a physician, medical researcher and educator whose work has greatly influenced the field of public health, particularly in the application of decision science models to understand the epidemiology of disease and outcomes in large populations.

2021 commencement speaker Susanne Goldie

Her research has focused on viruses of global health importance, cancer prevention, reproductive health and maternal mortality. In 2005, she received a $500,000 MacArthur Fellowship, known as a “genius grant,” in recognition of her work.

Goldie is the Roger Irving Lee Professor of Public Health at Harvard University, where she also serves as director of both the Center for Health Decision Science, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and the Global Health Education and Learning Incubator. She served as the founding director of the Harvard Global Health Institute.

She has published 200 research papers, chapters and technical reports, and has served as the principal investigator on awards from the National Institutes of Health, Centers for Disease Control, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

She earned her B.A. in biology from Union, her medical degree from Albany Medical College and a master’s in public health from the Harvard School of Public Health. She completed her internship and residency at Yale New Haven Hospital.

At Commencement, Goldie will receive an honorary doctorate of science degree.

The Class of 2021 co-valedictorians are Chris Avanessian, Shea K. Delehaunty and Lisa C. Spagnuolo.

Co-salutatorians are Emma N. Cravo and Jennifer A. Mutch.

The College also announced it will host an in-person commencement ceremony for the Class of 2020 at 10 a.m. on Sunday, June 20, on Hull (Library) Plaza. The ceremony will follow the protocols for the Class of 2021 event. The traditional ceremony was postponed last year due to the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, the College held a virtual event in which President Harris conferred degrees on the 477 members of the class.

All students who were eligible to participate in last year’s virtual ceremony, as well as any additional students who have since completed their graduation requirements, are invited to attend.

To learn more about Commencement, visit the website.