March 16 - To the Class of 2021: Commencement update

Dear Class of 2021,

We write to you today with more detailed information regarding Salve Regina’s current status in relation to your Commencement.

We fully understand the disappointment felt as a result of the decision made in February regarding the inability of guests to physically join you on campus for this momentous occasion. Please know that it was not made lightly. We have been monitoring data, speaking with institutions that are similar in size and reviewing scenarios for logistically managing Commencement in ways that will ensure the safety of all involved. Our main goal has always been to provide you with an in-person experience that offers to the greatest extent possible the oceanside Commencement Salve Regina has been known for. You deserve that.

Despite the fact that we will be outside in May, this pandemic continues to present challenges and restrictions for in-person gatherings of any kind, but especially for gatherings with guests who must travel from different states to Rhode Island.

Rhode Island has seen progress with its positivity rate, hospitalization rate and vaccinations, and restrictions on outdoor gatherings have been lifted to some extent. However, because Commencement has an average attendance of 5,000, our primary goal is to structure the event so that as many members of the class as possible can receive their degrees together while still maintaining safety protocols and the security of our campus.

Stadium spaces and other options outside of campus would require orchestration that would logistically challenge both organizers and attendees in such a way that we would not be providing you with the recognition you deserve as a Salve Regina graduate. Again, our goal is to provide you with the opportunity to process and walk across the dais according to tradition.

We continue to monitor regulations and hope to confirm additional details to share with you as soon as possible. Please be reminded that our graduate Commencement is scheduled for Thursday, May 6 and our undergraduate Commencement is scheduled for Sunday, May 9.

Based on current restrictions, we believe we can offer a single graduate Commencement. Undergraduate Commencement will most likely be coordinated into two or three smaller ceremonies.

We recognize that plans can change at any point between now and May. We are setting a course of action that we believe provides the safest scenario for you based on the data we have. We felt it was more merciful to be straightforward with the challenges we are facing than to overpromise what we may be capable of.

Should restrictions continue to ease, we can pivot to add elements to our planning more smoothly than if we had to minimize plans at the last minute. We also have to account for the possibility of restrictions coming back into play. Our communications are designed to keep you in the loop and to be transparent about where Commencement stands at different stages between now and May. We ask for your patience and understanding as we try to keep you informed along the way.

Here is what we know at this time:

  • Commencement exercises for the Class of 2021 will be on separate days for graduate students (May 6) and undergraduate students (May 9).
  • Logistically, we still cannot welcome guests on campus at this time. We will provide families with a virtual option.
  • We anticipate that the graduate Commencement on May 6 will be one ceremony, and that the undergraduate Commencement will include 2-3 ceremonies given regulations. Ceremonies on May 9 will be held at 10 a.m., 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. as needed.
  • Individuals who were undergraduates in 2020 and are now graduate candidates in 2021 may choose to attend one or both celebrations on their scheduled dates (May 16 and May 6).
  • Those participating in the ceremony will need to be tested prior to the ceremony itself. For current students, the University’s mandatory testing program is sufficient.
  • Students who are fully remote this semester may participate in Commencement ceremonies provided testing procedures are followed. Testing procedures are still being finalized and we will communicate those at a later date.
  • Senior Week activities for undergraduate students are planned and tickets will go on sale at 10 a.m. Monday, March 22.
  • The University has worked with our hotel partners to offer discounted rooms for you and your families.

Students who plan to participate in either ceremony must order their regalia through the Jostens website by Friday, March 26. Regalia will be available for pickup in the Salve Regina bookstore beginning in late April. For undergraduate students, the cost of regalia is included in your graduation fee, which is an administrative fee charged regardless of participation in the ceremony. Graduate students may pay for their regalia during pickup, or they may call the bookstore to pay for their regalia and have it shipped.

We will continue to monitor conditions impacting our campus and we will continue to provide updated information as often as we can. Please check our Commencement website for the latest information as well.

Thank you again for your patience and understanding as we move forward in planning for a safe celebration of your achievements.