UMaine 2021 virtual commencement update — April 16

Dear UMaine students, families and other community members,

Thank you for all your great ideas, your patience and understanding as plans for the UMaine 2021 virtual commencement presentation have advanced. We are a week away from the in-person stage walks of UMaine 2021 and 2020 graduates who have opted to participate.

Nearly 1,000 undergraduate and graduate students in the Classes of 2021 and 2020 will be on campus to take part in the stage walk events in the Collins Center for the Arts, scheduled for April 23, April 26–29, and May 3. Students are being scheduled for their stage walks in small groups in accordance with COVID-19 health and safety guidelines. There will be no guests in the audience. We have arranged to have the events livestreamed and recorded for formal presentation in May. The links are on the commencement website, as are all our updates, including information on college-specific activities and my video message.

We fully understand and respect the decisions of graduates in the two classes who have chosen not to participate in the stage walks out of ongoing concerns about gatherings during the pandemic. This spring in Maine, the highest incidence of positive COVID cases has been in adults in their 20s, and UMaine’s positivity rate at times has been higher than the state’s.

The virtual commencement presentation will celebrate and recognize the achievements of all our graduates successfully completing their academic careers during these two years of the pandemic, whether opting for an in-person component of the commencement experience or choosing to be part of graduation fully remotely. It will feature elements of our traditional in-person commencement ceremony, such as messages from campus leadership, speakers and music, as well as photos of all graduates who opt to submit images. I am pleased to announce that our commencement speaker is Dr. Edison Liu, president and CEO of Jackson Laboratory.

May 8 would have been the date for the in-person commencement if we had been able to hold a traditional commencement with 12,000 people attending our two ceremonies. The virtual presentation is being released later in May to ensure adequate time for all video and photos to be submitted from the Class of 2021 and 2020 and to complete the editing process.

We remain optimistic that UMaine’s in-person, on-campus experiences this fall will allow us to have group gatherings, and the commencement committee will continue to monitor health and safety guidance to determine what will be possible for further recognition of our graduates in the Class of 2021 and 2020. We thank all our students, parents and other UMaine community members for their perspectives, patience and understanding. We also share your disappointment and frustration that the pandemic continues to affect our plans and fervent desire to be together for the fully in-person commencement ceremony they deserve. We will continue to explore opportunities to honor these two classes this fall.

Until we can all be together again on campus, be well. And congratulations to our graduates!

Sincerely,

Joan Ferrini-Mundy