Safely Honoring our Spring 2021 Graduates

Dear campus community,

Though it is early in the semester, I know there is great interest in the University’s plans to recognize our spring graduates this coming May. Despite the impacts on our daily lives brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, we are determined to celebrate important milestones and support and honor our graduates in an uplifting and memorable way. 

The primary challenge facing  San José State University for the graduating Class of 2021 is the county-wide risk reduction order that places restrictions on in-person gatherings. Still, over the recent months, our campus community and Events team have explored every available option for safely and responsibly celebrating one of our most important annual events – the graduation of our spring class. We have examined the approaches at other universities and talked with industry experts in an effort to determine the best course of action that adheres to local, state and federal guidelines without sacrificing the pomp and circumstance our 2021 spring graduates have richly earned.

SJSU plans to utilize an engaging online recognition experience that we believe will highlight each graduate’s individuality and hard work.

The plan includes a live streamed virtual kick-off event that I am delighted to be hosting, along with Provost Del Casino and perhaps a special guest or two. Following the virtual kick-off event, graduate recognition websites for each of our eight colleges that will be launched. Those websites will include video messages from the college Dean, guest speakers and the extended Spartan family, and they will also feature personalized slides that we anticipate will please and delight our graduates and their families.

We know that an online-only recognition can never replace the experience of a live, in-person ceremony, and I am sure many of you are as disappointed as I am that we are unable to gather in-person for the Spring 2021 commencement ceremonies. This difficult decision was necessary for the sake of our students’ health and safety and that of parents, staff, faculty and other supporters. We continue to look forward to a time when we can safely host live events and recognize those members of the Class of 2021 who wish to cross the stage at a future in-person graduation ceremony.

I continue to be amazed and proud of our campus community for working together to help our students continue their academic journey this spring. You will hear more soon about our plans for May and the graduation celebrations that we have planned, but in the meantime, thank you for all you do, and best wishes for the remainder of the semester.

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Dr. Mary A. Papazian