UMaine Commencement Update — February 25

Dear UMaine undergraduate and graduate students:

Following my Feb. 10 memo about spring 2021 Commencement to the UMaine and UMM communities, we received many recommendations and ideas for alternative recognition events from students, parents and community members. We are aware of the petition to have some form of a 2021 in-person event, and the Commencement Committee, which includes student representatives, is discussing the ideas and issues with members of the 2021 Class Council.

Currently, state of Maine requirements and university system guidance, in accordance with the best national advice about beating the pandemic, do not allow for indoor gatherings beyond 50 people. And the restrictions on outdoor gatherings limit group sizes to no more than 100 individuals, with restrictions, and, in some specific circumstances, up to 200 with restrictions. Assuming this guidance remains in place, there is no feasible way and no sufficiently large venue to simultaneously accommodate the approximately 12,000 people who typically attend the UMaine Commencement in Alfond Arena.

Suggestions for alternative recognition activities to celebrate our graduates’ accomplishments can be submitted online.

Commencement is about two months away and the Commencement Committee, which has met regularly since July 2020, is looking at multiple options. Planning is well underway for smaller college-based gatherings and celebrations, for virtual components, and for novel ways to celebrate and recognize our graduates. For example, we are actively exploring a plan to record and photograph graduates walking across a stage as their names are read — all arriving by appointment, and following health and safety protocol, and without an audience. That recording would be available as part of our virtual ceremony for the Graduate School on May 7 and for UMaine undergraduates on May 8.

When details of our plans are available, you will find them on the UMaine Commencement website. We also will have a virtual town hall on our Commencement plans at 3 p.m., March 3.

If civil, health and safety guidance changes, and if planning can be redirected to a more traditional Commencement in-person event, I assure you that we will do our best, in consultation with many, to adjust accordingly. At this time, for us to guarantee a full face-to-face ceremony is not possible, and would not be responsible given the circumstances of the pandemic.

We are committed to recognizing the achievements of our undergraduate and graduate students, and look forward to collaborating to offer the best Commencement recognition possible during this challenging time.


Joan Ferrini-Mundy