Update to in-person Commencement activities

May 7, 2021
Kim A. Wilcox
May 7, 2021

Dear UCR Community,

A month ago, I endorsed the Commencement Task Force recommendations of a stage-walk for the graduating classes of 2021 and 2020, consistent with public health guidance. As you know, California’s in-person gathering restrictions are evolving to reflect changes in infection, vaccination, and testing data, although notable constraints are still in place for Riverside County.

Recently, ASUCR leadership asked that we reconsider allowing limited guests to join graduates in the special moment of walking across the stage while their name is read. I want to reiterate that the safety and health of our community is my highest priority while acknowledging the profound sacrifices our students have made over the past 14 months, completing degree requirements under daunting circumstances.

Based on advice and counsel from Commencement Task Force co-chairs, Vice Chancellor Brian Haynes and Dean Kathryn Uhrich, and with considerable planning support from the Event Management & Protocol team, I am pleased to announced that I am granting an exception to our current campus policy prohibiting visitors to allow each student to bring no more than two guests with them into the venue. Once inside, students will remain at all times with their guests, who will cross the stage with them and join for a professional photograph. These activities will still be livestreamed for family and friends to watch online.

As previously described, participants will line up with households socially distanced and all individuals wearing face coverings, as required by campus and public health guidelines. The same coronavirus safety protocols will be in place: participants must show proof of COVID-19 vaccination at check-in, with a completed COVID Vaccination Record Card issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Unvaccinated individuals must arrive with a negative result from a SARS CoV-2 PCR test, performed no more than 48 hours prior to arriving on campus.

Consistent with California Department of Public Health guidance anyone who tests positive, is feeling ill, has symptoms of COVID-19, or has potentially been exposed to someone with confirmed or suspected COVID-19, may not attend the graduation event and should follow public health recommendations. Also, any student or guest traveling or visiting from outside California and who is not vaccinated should self-quarantine per public health guidelines.

The formal ceremony will remain as a virtual event, with remarks and greetings by university, Academic Senate, alumni, and student leadership delivered as a prerecorded program of approximately 30 minutes and released at the beginning of commencement weekend. Students and their families may watch this at a convenient time and enjoy a tassel-turning or hooding moment with their loved ones at home.

We continue to monitor infection data and will strictly adhere to all public health guidance to make necessary adjustments if circumstances change. For ongoing updates and more information, please visit commencement.ucr.edu. I’m grateful to co-chairs Vice Chancellor Brian Haynes and Dean Kathryn Uhrich, who continue to provide exceptional leadership during this uncertain time.