March 26: Email to Class of 2021 with Updates to Commencement 2021 Plan

Dear Champlain colleagues,

I’m sharing with you an email below that we recently sent to our traditional undergraduate graduating students. 

In response to feedback we heard from students regarding our plans to host a fully virtual Commencement ceremony, we invited students to participate in a survey and express their preference for one of three options—a fully virtual ceremony, a hybrid ceremony with in-person elements, or a delayed ceremony that would take place in the fall. The majority chose the hybrid option, which is detailed in the email below. As we explain below, any in-person plans are contingent upon state and regional guidance and our need to keep the health and safety of our students and our community as the highest priority. Our Champlain College Online ceremony will continue to be fully virtual.

You will receive more information about how you can contribute to a meaningful experience for our students, including volunteering for a role during the in-person diploma ceremonies, and/or filming a video clip sharing an inspiring message for graduating students.

I look forward to coming together with you to celebrate our students this May. 

Message to Students

Dear Champlain Class of 2021,

Thank you for completing the Commencement survey last week and weighing in with your preferences on the three options for the Commencement 2021 ceremony. I want to share with you the outcome of the survey, our plans for next steps, and two important actions we will need you to take.

Of the 193 of you who filled out the survey, 63% of you—a significant majority—chose Option #2: adding an in-person element to the virtual commencement ceremony. We are excited to continue our planning based on the feedback you provided.

In order to participate in the in-person diploma ceremonies, students must already be in the testing pool on campus or have met all state of Vermont COVID guidelines, including requirements for travel and quarantine, and can show proof of a negative COVID test taken within 48 hours of Commencement. In-person ceremonies will be limited to graduating seniors, as well as faculty and staff in our testing pool. Friends or family members will not be able to attend. Each diploma ceremony will be live-streamed so those watching from home and students not able to attend can view in real-time. 

The Commencement ceremony will include virtual and in-person elements on May 15. The main ceremony, including remarks from all speakers—President, Vice President for Academic Affairs, Board of Trustees, alumni, faculty, the honorary degree candidate and senior class speakers—will take place virtually. The in-person elements will include multiple diploma ceremonies at various times on May 15, based on expected participation.

If you choose to participate in person, you will be assigned a time and location for your diploma ceremony prior to Commencement day. During the diploma ceremonies, students will hear a brief introduction by a Dean or member of the faculty, followed by the reading of names. Each student will come to the stage, pick up their diploma cover, and then exit. In alignment with health regulations, there will be no handshakes as students cross the stage. 

We want to do everything possible to meet your hopes and expectations for this important milestone event. In addition, we must continue to make your health and safety our highest priority, as we have since the start of the pandemic. We will need to adjust our plans for in-person ceremony elements if we are not able to meet state and regional guidance for social distancing and gatherings, or if the pandemic evolves in such a way that any in-person gathering would put your health and safety at risk. We are monitoring the pandemic closely, including any new guidance from both the state of Vermont and the City of Burlington. Currently, case counts in Chittenden County are rising, and the new variant is widespread in our community. If changes need to be made to revert to a fully virtual ceremony, we will inform you as quickly as possible, as we know you all want to put plans in place.

We request that you take two actions at this time:

  1. Please complete the Commencement Plans form by Friday, April 2, indicating whether you plan to attend the in-person ceremony. This will provide us with an accurate count that will help us determine how many ceremonies we will be conducting and where those ceremonies will take place. 
  2. Please log into the Graduation and Commencement Requirements form by Friday, April 9, and complete steps 1–5 on the form. This will provide us with the necessary information to read your name correctly at the ceremony and issue diplomas. You should also order your commencement regalia by following the link to Oak Hall in this form. Please contact if you have any questions about the form.

We encourage you to visit the Commencement 2021 website where we will share updated information and action items. If you have any questions, please contact us at
We look forward to celebrating you and your class in May!


Benjamin Ola. Akande

More Commencement 2021
PROGRAM: Champlain College Online Undergraduates & Master’s Commencement 2021 Ceremony
PROGRAM: Champlain College’s One Hundred and Forty-Third Commencement
PROGRAM: Champlain College’s One Hundred and Forty-Third Commencement