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Cornell sets protocols for healthy, safe Commencement

The ceremonies for Cornell’s 153rd graduating class will look different from other celebrations in the university’s past, due to safety precautions and protocols arising from the COVID-19 pandemic – but they promise to be just as festive, joyous and memorable as ever.

While Graduation Weekend 2021 will feature in-person Commencement ceremonies at Schoellkopf Field, Cornell will keep density low by holding four smaller ceremonies May 29-30.

Graduates are permitted to invite up to two guests for their in-person ceremony; those students have already received information on guest registration.

Preceding Commencement, an outdoor Ph.D. hooding ceremony will take place the evening of May 28 at Schoellkopf, and Senior Convocation – featuring noted author Roxane Gaywill be held virtually on Friday, May 28, at 8:30 p.m.

In accordance with rigorous New York state health and safety guidelines, Commencement attendees must abide by physical distancing requirements and wear face coverings, regardless of vaccination status, according to Cornell’s Office of University Commencement Events.

All Commencement ceremonies will be livestreamed at CornellCast. Recordings of the ceremonies will be available on the Office of University Commencement Events website at a later time.

If any of the Commencement ceremonies are canceled due to severe weather, they will not be rescheduled and degrees will be granted virtually.

The schedule of ceremonies at Schoellkopf Field is as follows:

Friday, May 28 – The University Ph.D. Hooding Ceremony, 7 to 8:30 p.m.

  • Guests arrive at parking lots and enter Schoellkopf Field with tickets and identification, 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.
  • Graduates arrive at Northwest gate (between parking garage and Schoellkopf Hall) 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.
  • Graduates process on to Schoellkopf Field, 6:30 to 7 p.m.
  • Ceremony, 7 to 8:30 p.m.

Saturday, May 29 – The first ceremony, 11 a.m. to noon. Guests arrive 8:30 to 10 a.m. The academic procession will start at 10 a.m. (Guests must exit the parking lots before 1 p.m., to accommodate the next ceremony.)

  • Cornell Graduate School
  • College of Veterinary Medicine
  • College of Human Ecology

Saturday, May 29 – The second ceremony, 4 to 5 p.m. Guests arrive 1:30 to 3 p.m. The academic procession will start at 3 p.m.

  • Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management
  • Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management
  • School of Hotel Administration
  • College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

Sunday, May 30 – The third ceremony, 11 a.m. to noon. Guests arrive 8:30 to 10 a.m. The academic procession will start at 10 a.m. (Guests must exit the parking lots before 1 p.m., to accommodate the next ceremony.)

  • College of Arts and Sciences
  • College of Architecture, Art and Planning

Sunday, May 30 – The fourth ceremony, 4 to 5 p.m. Guests arrive 1:30 to 3 p.m. The academic procession will start at 3 p.m.

  • School of Industrial and Labor Relations
  • College of Engineering

Graduates in Computer Science, Information Science, and Statistics and Data Science are affiliated with both the Cornell Ann S. Bowers College of Computing and Information Science and their degree-granting college: College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, College of Arts and Sciences or College of Engineering.

Health protocols

Public health protocol for guests: All ticketed guests attending the ceremonies must adhere to New York state public health guidelines. Upon arrival to the event, all guests are required to complete the pre-check process, where they will answer a health-screening questionnaire and provide documentation of vaccination (if guests have it) in order to pick-up a public-health wristband. Guests will be seated based on their vaccination status.

Full guest details on protocols and gate-entry requirements are available here on the Office of Commencement Events web site.

Face coverings and social distancing: Regardless of vaccination status, all guests are required to always wear face coverings, even when outside, and maintain six feet of physical distance between individuals while on campus.

Campus food options

Several Cornell Dining eateries will be open to the public for Commencement Weekend. Check Cornell Dining for eatery hours and menus. The facilities include:

  • Cafe Jennie in the Cornell Store;
  • Bus Stop Bagels and Trillium in Kennedy Hall;
  • Cornell Dairy Bar in Stocking Hall;
  • Becker House dining room, West Campus;
  • North Star dining room in Appel Commons; and
  • Bear Necessities at Robert Purcell Community Center.

Transportation and parking

Campus parking is free for guests beginning noon on Friday through 9 p.m. Monday. For the Friday, Saturday and Sunday ceremonies, as you approach campus from any direction, follow signs directing traffic to parking lots.

Ph.D. Hooding event parking – All roads and parking lots are open to the public throughout Friday. Please be mindful of designated accessible spaces and fire lanes, as these restrictions will be enforced, according to the Office of University Commencement Events.

Park and walk locations are listed here.

The main parking for the Ph.D. Hooding event is the Kite Hill lot, which is south of the Charles F. Berman Field (soccer stadium).

The Crescent Parking Lot (Schoellkopf) will be closed and the Hoy Parking Garage is designated for faculty and event staff only.

Commencement ceremonies parking – Road closures will be in effect at varying times on Saturday and Sunday, as detailed in the map here.

“Park and Ride” parking: Shuttle buses will travel from the parking areas at B Lot (near the College of Veterinary Medicine), TRB Lot, BTI Lot, North Morrison Lot and South Morrison Lot to Schoellkopf Field. Seating will be limited due to distancing requirements. Upon arrival, all guests are required to complete a health screening and show vaccination documentation at the pre-check stations adjacent to those lots. Bus riders must wear masks.

“Park and Walk” parking: Guests who are able to park and walk, are encouraged to do so. Upon arrival, all guests are required to complete a health screening and show vaccination documentation at the pre-check stations adjacent to Schoellkopf Field.

Please consult the Commencement Ceremony parking map for other parking options and take note of the pre-check locations.

Tompkins Consolidated Area Transit: TCAT bus service will operate on its normal schedule for Friday, May 28, and Saturday, May 29. TCAT will switch to summer service on Sunday, May 30. For details: tcatbus.com.

Safety and Security

The Cornell Police will conduct bag-check security at all Commencement ceremonies. There is no re-entry allowed during the events. If you exit Schoellkopf Field prior to the end of the event, you will not be allowed back in.

Cornell visitor text messages

Cornell visitors can sign up for emergency notifications, such as weather alerts, by texting “CornellVisitor” (without the quotation marks) to 226787.

For more details, please check the Cornell Office of Commencement Events website.

Media Contact

Rebecca Valli