UMass Dartmouth to hold in-person commencements, allow limited attendance

DARTMOUTH – The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth announced Wednesday that it will hold in-person commencement ceremonies for both the 2020 and 2021 graduating classes from both the regular university and the University of Massachusetts School of Law over multiple days in June, with graduates being allowed to bring limited guests to attend the ceremonies.

Multiple other local colleges, such as Providence College and Brown University, are allowing graduates to walk the stage to receive their diplomas in person while family and friends have to watch virtually. However, UMass Dartmouth is among the first colleges locally to announce that in-person attendance will be allowed for commencement proceedings, while also complying with health and safety guidelines.

UMass Dartmouth Interim Chancellor Mark A. Fuller said in a message to the campus community that the ceremonies will take place June 11-13 and be held on campus. He said each graduate will be allowed to bring two guests to attend the ceremony in person, and other family and friends will be able to watch the ceremony in a virtual setting.

“We set the date in June to allow more time for students, families, faculty and the many staff who will work at these events to be vaccinated, as well as to give us more time to meet the extensive public health protocols for these events that have been mandated by the state,” Fuller said, also noting the university is still developing plans to meet the commonwealth’s health requirements.

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Fuller said the ceremonies will be held “rain or shine,” but may be postponed if weather that weekend is deemed too severe for the ceremonies to be held. The ceremonies, themselves, will be “shorter than a traditional commencement” per Massachusetts requirement, Fuller said.

Communal gatherings before and after the ceremony will be prohibited, Fuller said, and guests will be required to contact the university for contact tracing purposes if graduates and/or their guests test positive for COVID-19 in the days after the ceremonies.

James Bessette is the PBN special projects editor, and also covers the nonprofit and education sectors. You may reach him at You may also follow him on Twitter at @James_Bessette.

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