Dear Graduates of the Class of 2020 and Families,

I hope that all of you are safe and well. The abrupt transition of the spring semester was difficult for everyone, but particularly for you as seniors who missed the opportunity to celebrate many moments together as a community. I also know that many of you have been deeply impacted by the national dialogue that began on May 25, as some of you have been in touch with ideas about how to address racism at Lafayette. As I said earlier this week, we have outlined some immediate steps to take, but this is an ongoing task that will take engagement from the whole community. I hope that as alumni you will remain active in these efforts and continue to be engaged with areas of the College that were most important to you during your time as a student.

I am sorry to write today with news that you probably don’t want to hear. We will not be able to hold an on-campus Commencement on August 1. Guidance issued last week by the Pennsylvania Department of Education indicates that even when our area moves out of its current status in the “yellow” phase of re-opening and goes “green,” gatherings of more than 250 people will be prohibited. I know how disappointing this is, and I truly wish it were possible for us to honor you in person as we had hoped.

I know from conversations with many of you, and feedback from our senior class Zoom late this spring, that you were hoping for two things in August: a chance to formally commemorate your graduation with your families, and time to be together as a class and celebrate the special bonds you have formed. We will do our best to offer both of those opportunities.

First, we will host a virtual Commencement ceremony on August 1. It will include, in addition to shortened versions of some of the traditional speeches and remarks, individual recognition of each graduate. It will be preceded by an online Senior Toast the night before, for which you may use the champagne flute we will be sending you along with some other graduation mementos.

Second, we will invite you to return to campus in June 2021 for a special reunion for the Class of 2020. We will work with class representatives to plan a set of social activities that will give you a chance to reconnect and celebrate together.

We hope that our August 1 virtual ceremony, though belated, will be meaningful to you. You will receive information shortly on how to order a cap and gown. One change from normal practice: There will be no charge for your commencement regalia. I would not want anyone to hesitate over the question of whether it’s worth paying for a cap and gown just to take a few pictures. Trust me, you and your family will want those photos!

I look forward to “seeing” you at our toast on the night of Friday, July 31, formally commemorating you as a class on August 1, and celebrating with you in person next June. In the meantime, stay well.

All best wishes,

Alison Byerly