University at Buffalo President Satish K. Tripathi on Wednesday announced plans for the university to safely hold in-person, outdoor commencement ceremonies to honor students graduating from UB this academic year.
The ceremonies will be held April 30 through May 16 at UB Stadium and at another outdoor space on the North Campus, to be named later.
Seventeen commencement ceremonies will be held over the three-week period at the two outdoor venues, with mandatory mask-wearing, physical distancing and compliance with UB’s weekly testing requirement in effect for all students, faculty and staff at all ceremonies.
UB’s full commencement schedule is available on the commencement website.
A decision on whether guests will be permitted to attend the ceremonies will be made by the university at a later date, in consultation with the county and state departments of health. All ceremonies will be live streamed.
In an email to the university community, Tripathi told students – and 2021 graduates in particular – that he knows how challenging the past 12 months have been, both academically and personally.
“Yet, despite very trying circumstances, you have met this moment with exceptional resilience, perseverance and ingenuity,” he said. “Throughout, you have remained committed to your studies and steadfast in the pursuit of your life’s goals. I, for one, couldn’t be prouder – and I suspect our entire UB community shares this sentiment.”
More than 9,000 undergraduate and graduate students are expected to earn degrees from UB this academic year. The university anticipates as many as 6,000 students will choose to participate in commencement ceremonies this spring, based on participation rates in previous years.
Under current state guidelines on the size of gatherings, seating capacity within UB Stadium will be 2,900. Under normal conditions the capacity is 29,000. UB’s second outdoor venue is expected to seat about 500, in accordance with state guidelines.
Beginning with the fall 2020 semester and throughout the spring 2021 semester, UB has offered modified in-person instruction, which has included a mix of in-person instruction and online courses. More than 9,500 students have been on campus regularly throughout the spring semester. They have been required to participate in weekly on-campus testing for the coronavirus. UB’s COVID-19 positivity rate has remained at less than 1% for the entire semester.
According to UB officials, the university still intends to offer on-campus, in-person celebrations at a later date for graduates of the Class of 2020, for whom commencement ceremonies were held virtually last spring after the onset of the pandemic forced UB to transition to fully remote instruction and activities.