Cornell University has officially announced that its commencement ceremony will be delayed as a result of the ongoing public health crisis, but has pledged to keep the event in Ithaca and that all graduates and their families will be invited to the festivities.
The news has to be bittersweet for Ithacans, many of whom use the weekend to rent out their houses to visiting families and make a significant amount of money. While they will have to wait past its normal date, Cornell president Martha Pollack seemed optimistic that the event would still take place.
"This year, while degrees will be granted on time, we will not be able to have the ceremony on Memorial Day weekend. But we will celebrate: we will have a commencement – and it will be a joyous one," Pollack wrote. "We are not yet able to announce a date or location, as that will very much be determined by the progression of the current public health crisis. But I can say with certainty that your celebration will occur. It will take place in Ithaca."
Commencement weekend is a notoriously busy time in Ithaca, with thousands of friends and families traveling into town to watch the students graduate at the prestigious event. Over the last few years, former Vice President Joe Biden, prominent film director Ava Duvernay and scientist Bill Nye the Science Guy have all delivered the commencement address at the event.
Pollack also complimented the students on their flexibility over the last few weeks and their academic achievements over the previous year, while offering an almost defiant pledge that the coronavirus would not be able to derail the commencement plans.
"I know what we - as individuals, as Cornellians, as a nation and as a global community - will get through this and be able to once again congregate with friends and neighbors, to return to a normal work routine and to the physical classroom. And we will have your commencement."