Claremont Colleges elect for virtual graduations in 2021

by Mick Rhodes |

In an anticlimactic, but not unexpected move, all Claremont Colleges seniors will graduate via virtual ceremonies this year.

Many institutions are doing their best to spice up the ho-hum ending by bringing in an array of distinguished and well-known commencement speakers.

Pomona College’s 2021 Commencement exercises will be held Sunday, June 6, 2021, with activist and Claremont native Ady Barkan, renowned conductor Gustavo Dudamel and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Bill Keller on tap to address graduates.

Scripps College is still in the planning stages of its virtual graduation, set for Saturday, May 22.

“Virtual events are being planned in the countdown to commencement beginning with Senior Day, Capstone Day, and a special Scripps Presents program honoring graduates,” the college announced. “There are several other celebratory events being planned as well. More to come!”

Over at Pitzer, graduates will be honored Saturday, May 15, with details to be announced in later this month.

“Commencement is the most meaningful and joyous event at Pitzer every year,” said Jim Marchant, Pitzer’s Interim VP of Advancement and Communications. “The college would very much like to host an in-person ceremony, but unfortunately we are unable to due to the pandemic, and L.A. County health restrictions that limit the amount of people that could attend an event on campus.”

Current health department guidelines require out of state visitors to L.A. County to quarantine for at least 10 days. With so many Claremont College students hailing from outside L.A. County, the state and even the country, it’s a complication that would seem to further impede the prospect of an in-person graduation.

“Also, since we are remote this semester and many of our students are not living in the region, including a significant number that are out of state this spring, we are not going to hold a hybrid/in-person event due to equity reasons,” Mr. Marchant said. “In other words, since all of our graduates would be unable to participate in-person we will have a virtual ceremony. Pitzer is working with students to produce a memorable and meaningful remote event.”

Harvey Mudd College’s graduation is also happening Saturday, May 15. A celebration will follow on Sunday, May 16, starting with a 1:30 p.m. address by President Maria Klawe, followed by photo “slide show” created by class of 2021 class presidents Christian Garcia and Martin Gonzalez. At 2 p.m., graduating Mudders can take part in student led celebration “Zoom rooms.”

Claremont Graduate University is working out details of its virtual graduation ceremony, planned for some time in May.

“If guidance substantively changes as we move closer to commencement, we will review opportunities to allow very limited activities, such as photo opportunities on campus,” said Cynthia Baker, CGU’s Vice President for Marketing and Communications. “We plan to offer recorded remarks from many of the same speakers our graduates would hear from during an in-person event, including President Len Jessup, Provost Patricia Easton, and a student speaker. We’ll ask our graduates, faculty and staff to share the experience by logging in at a specific time to watch the comments and share congratulations on social media.

“Following the recorded activity, students will be invited to attend a live, video conference event for their specific school hosted by our Deans and Directors. The Deans will conduct the conferral of degrees, as well as lead a celebratory reception during this conference.”

Claremont McKenna College is planning a virtual celebration for the class of 2021, also on Saturday, May 15, as well as related department and award-specific activities in late April and early May.

“We will continue to closely monitor public health conditions and their impact on our planning,” the college announced on its website. “Claremont McKenna College remains committed to honoring the accomplishments of the Class of 2020 and Class of 2021 and their families in a responsible and meaningful manner. We are pleased to announce that the College plans to move forward with a multi-day, in-person event for the Class of 2020 and Class of 2021 and their respective families in late May or early June 2022.”

CMC says the extended 2022 weekend will feature opportunities for graduates to spend time together, along with faculty, staff, coaches, family and friends.

“For key events, a virtual component will be included so that graduates who are unable to attend in person, as well as their families, can still participate remotely,” the website read. “CMC also will offer travel stipends to assist graduates who have financial need so they can return for in-person 2022 events. Additional details about the events and travel stipends will be posted on the Commencement website as it becomes available.”


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