PROVIDENCE — Providence College President Rev. Kenneth R. Sicard, O.P. ’78 & ’82G announced on March 19 that the College will award baccalaureate degrees to the Class of 2021 at an in-person commencement ceremony on Thursday, May 20, at 11 a.m. The ceremony will be held on campus, at one or more outdoor settings depending upon the allowable size of outdoor gatherings in Rhode Island at that time.
Guests will not be allowed to attend, but the event will be livestreamed.
“I am delighted that we will be able to provide the Class of 2021 with an in-person commencement experience,” Father Sicard wrote in an email to seniors and their families. “While the setting will be different from what we have become used to, the ceremony will continue those traditions we hold most dear, including individual recognition for each student, a commencement speaker, and the presentation of honorary degrees. I have no doubt that it will reflect in glorious ways the trademark Providence College resiliency and spirit that have been tested but remain unbroken after many months of challenges.”
In a January survey, members of the class indicated that having an in-person ceremony was their top commencement priority.
In addition to the commencement ceremony, a Commencement Mass is scheduled for Wednesday, May 19, the day after final exams conclude.
A graduate school and School of Continuing Education graduation ceremony will take place on campus on Friday, May 21, at 6 p.m.
The commencement speaker for the undergraduate ceremony will be Dr. Laurie Santos, an esteemed scholar in the field of psychology who is a Yale University professor and the host of the popular podcast The Happiness Lab. Santos’ course, Psychology and the Good Life, is the most popular one in Yale’s history with one-quarter of the university’s undergraduates enrolled. A New Bedford, Mass., native, Santos is a researcher focusing on the evolutionary origins of the human mind. She has won numerous awards for her scholarly work.
The ceremony is scheduled three days earlier than originally planned as part of the College’s COVID-19 mitigation plan. Testing — with associated quarantine and isolation — will continue until commencement. The earlier date reduces the time frame during which students might test positive or be identified as close contacts, which would prevent them from being able to participate in the ceremony.
PC will honor the Class of 2020, which received its degrees virtually last May, during an event at Homecoming Weekend, Oct. 1-3. Details will be developed later, but it will be a social event that will include elements of a typical commencement ceremony. Potentially, the event could include such things as the opportunity for class members to cross a stage and be recognized as a graduate, a keynote address, and the conferral of honorary degrees.