UC Santa Barbara Chancellor Henry T. Yang announced in a campus-wide email Thursday evening that this year’s commencement ceremony will be postponed, but that the university will hold an in-person ceremony “when it is safe to do so.”
In lieu of this year’s original commencement ceremony, Yang said in the email that the university will be hosting a “virtual ceremony” on the second weekend of June, when the in-person ceremony was originally scheduled to occur. Yang said that California Governor Gavin Newsom’s stay-at-home order and “consultation with students, faculty, and our academic deans” contributed to the decision.
“We know that this decision is a tremendous disappointment to our graduates, who for years have devoted themselves to reaching this milestone and have looked forward with great anticipation to the celebration that would mark their academic accomplishment,” he said in the email.
“And we know it is just as disappointing to the families and friends who have supported our students in their scholarly endeavors,” Yang said, adding that “It is also a disappointment for us — the faculty and staff who have made the journeys of our students our own.”
The decision to postpone commencement comes two weeks after the university announced it would be transitioning to remote instruction through the end of April to mitigate the spread of coronavirus; four days after that, the university announced that remote instruction would continue for the entirety of spring quarter.
“While some may believe our situation will abate within a few months, the public health information we are receiving suggests the rapid and evolving nature of COVID-19 makes the risk to our community too great to allow large gatherings such as our UC Santa Barbara Commencement,” he said in the email.
As of March 26, Santa Barbara County has confirmed 32 cases of coronavirus in the county.