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Update from Interim Chancellor Susan R. Wente

Based on current CDC public health recommendations for maintaining social distancing through mid-May, and after deliberation with the deans of all of Vanderbilt's schools and colleges and with our Board of Trust ad hoc committee on university COVID-19 response, I have reached the profoundly difficult decision not to hold Vanderbilt Commencement ceremonies, or other related activities, for this academic year.

In lieu of gathering on May 8, we are committed to holding a set of special events for you in May 2021. We envision these events in May 2021 as both a historic postponed Commencement ceremony and a one-year reunion for the Class of 2020. Although we are working to determine specific dates, we are planning for these events to be held between May 12 and May 16, 2021. I am launching the process of assembling a group of students from the Class of 2020 to give input into the planning of these events to help us ensure they reflect your hopes and expectations for this incredibly special moment.

Please know your degrees will still be conferred when you have completed all requirements to be eligible to graduate, but no formal ceremony will be held in May 2020. Further, as they would have done in May 2020, the August and December 2019 graduates also will be welcomed for the postponed events in May 2021.

Read full message from Interim Chancellor Susan R. Wente


Many options were explored before deciding on a May 2021 ceremony. There are too many unknowns at present regarding the ability to travel domestically and internationally to plan a summer or fall ceremony. Many graduates will just be starting jobs or graduate and professional programs in the fall and it was felt that setting a May 2021 date would allow the most time for all to plan and be able to attend. We will be working with students from both the 2020 and 2021 classes on planning the set of events for each that will respectfully and fully recognize each appropriately. 

Yes, all students who have a degree expect term of Spring 2020 and who meet their degree requirements to graduate at the end of the Spring 2020 semester will have their degrees conferred and posted to their Vanderbilt transcript.

If you are expecting to graduate at the end of the Spring 2020 semester, please check your degree expect term on the Student Landing page in YES. If the degree expect term does not reflect Spring 2020 and you expect to graduate at the end of the Spring 2020 semester, please contact your school’s Dean’s Office. Students expecting to graduate at the end of the Spring 2020 semester should continue to check their degree audits in YES and also confer with their academic advisers to discuss their degree requirements.

Shortly after degrees are posted, graduating students will receive an official electronic copy of their diploma. Hard-copy diplomas will be mailed directly to all graduating students as soon as possible after degree conferral. It is important for students to check their Permanent (Home) Address in YES to ensure it reflects the address to which the diploma should be mailed.

Individual schools and colleges may extend invitations to regularly scheduled events to 2020 graduates during the 2020-21 academic year. They will reach out to the graduates directly with more information.

Each organizer is exploring options and may consider hosting events virtually or as part of the events scheduled in May 2021. Organizers will be working with students directly on plans.

Yes, regalia purchases will be refunded to the credit card used to purchase or rent it. You will need to contact Oak Hall Cap & Gown at or 800-456-7623 in order to complete the refund process.

You should reach out to the group(s) you expected to receive a cord from and ask for details about getting it.

Yes, Commencement Housing and Brunch reservations will be automatically processed, and guests will not need to request a refund. Questions about these refunds can be sent to

Refunds for table reservations, tickets, and gourmet totes and wine orders will be refunded to the original payment method. Questions about these refunds may be sent to

Airlines and hotels are being extremely flexible during this time. It is best to contact them directly through their recommended form of communication.