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Commencement 2021 Frequently Asked Questions

What is the virtual commencement? What elements are included?

Our virtual commencement ceremony will be launched May 22 at 10 a.m., and will include a program of student, guest and College speakers. Our Music Department will be featured performing the National Anthem and Geneseo’s Alma Mater.  Graduates will have an opportunity to submit a photo of their choice, a quote/brief comment and a 10 second video clip. The graduates' names will be announced in sections and will be presented in alpha order and searchable. You can select to view as many graduates as you wish.

Why can’t we hold an in-person commencement ceremony outside?

The current New York State Department of Health guidelines allow for events of 200 people outside (500, if participants provide negative tests); however our graduating class comprises 1,200 students. We typically provide four tickets per student, which puts our total attendance as high as 4,800. We would need to host multiple events to comply with the guidelines. While our stadium can accommodate 500 participants, we are not able to put chairs or a stage on the turf due to the type of material from which it is constructed. 

In addition, due to contractual obligations and associated deadlines for putting on an in-person or virtual event, the decision regarding the format of this year’s ceremony needed to be made in January. We do not own the necessary equipment for producing a virtual ceremony or the staging, lighting, and AV equipment for our traditional in-person ceremony. These are all contractual obligations with significant financial commitments that the college must enter into well in advance of commencement each year. Even if State regulations change at a later date we will be unable to toggle to a fully in-person event due to these circumstances.

Why can’t we hold an in-person commencement with smaller groups of students?

The New York State Department of Health guidelines allow for an indoor capacity of 100 people inside (150, if participants provide negative tests). This is a total number so it would include staff and College participants and event planners, as well. We would need to host nearly 16 events, which typically last up to two hours, to accommodate all our graduates, more if we are inviting their families, as well.

Why are other SUNY institutions doing an in person commencement?

All SUNYs operate individually under their own leadership and each campus has different resources and considerations that inform their decisions of what their individual commencements look like. Even outside of a pandemic, commencement ceremonies are unique to each institution.

What is the Graduate Procession and Recognition event on May 12?

In consultation with our local health department and guidance from SUNY, we were able to create an in-person event for our graduates to experience some of the key elements of a traditional graduation, including a procession with their classmates in regalia, marching together to “Pomp and Circumstance,” crossing a stage while having their name publicly announced, and receiving their diploma cover and a special gift from the Student Association.

What are the COVID compliance requirements for graduates to attend the May 12 event?

All participants in the May 12 Procession and Recognition must have evidence of a COVID test administered within 72 hours of the event. Those students who have been studying remotely but who choose to come to Geneseo for this event will be required to meet this criteria as well. The College is working on a plan to make testing available on campus to all students, but if a student chooses to be tested locally, they can download the test information into their student health record through the portal on campus (detailed information will be sent about this in the coming weeks). Any student who is not in compliance with this testing protocol will not be allowed to participate on May 12. 

Can parents attend the May 12 event?

Guests are not invited to attend due to strict guidelines on how many individuals can be gathered at once on campus.

How can family and friends see the May 12 event?

The Procession and Recognition event will be livestreamed. Links will be posted on the main Commencement page in advance of the event with instructions on how to view. Video of the event will remain viewable through those unique links for one year, and you will be able to download the video and save to your own devices. 

Will there be photographs of graduates as they cross the stage?

Yes. GradImages, a professional photography company that works with us for all our commencement events, will be on site capturing each graduate as they cross the stage. The company will communicate directly with the graduates and share proofs, pricing, and information about how to purchase photos following the event. 

*GradImages is a 3rd party vendor contracted by the College and the College has no involvement or control over the management of their product.

When will my graduate officially receive their degree and graduate?

On May 22, the College will officially host its 155th Commencement Ceremony virtually where graduates' degrees will be conferred and each graduate will be individually recognized, including their degree and any earned college honors. You can find information on college honors here.

When will diplomas be distributed?

Even during a traditional academic year, it takes a few months for the official diplomas to be printed and mailed to the graduates’ homes. SUNY typically mails them by early August.

If a graduate doesn’t participate in the May 12 event, how will they receive their diploma cover?

Students who do not participate in the May 12 event may request to have a cover mailed to them in the coming weeks by our Alumni Relations office. If you would like to receive one, please complete the form found in the drop down labeled "Diploma Covers" found here.

Will there be an official program listing graduates, degrees, and honors?

Yes, two copies of an official program recognizing the Class of 2021 and the 155th Commencement of SUNY Geneseo will be sent to each graduate's home.