Ceremonies and Celebrations for the Class of 2020

Adapting to the realities of the COVID-19 pandemic, the University is planning two observances to mark the accomplishments of the Class of 2020.

The full details of the two celebrations will be developed through the work of the Class of 2020 Commencement Committee, which will be composed of Colgate faculty, administrators, and members of the Class of 2020. 

These events are:

  • A virtual celebration to be held on Sunday, May 17, 2020, the original date of the commencement ceremony. 

  • An on-campus weekend gathering for all members of the Class of 2020 and their families and guests on May 22 and 23, 2021. The weekend will include the traditional Senior Torchlight Procession and several other events designed to celebrate the class while affording families and friends an opportunity to participate in the traditions and spirit that mark a Colgate Commencement Weekend.

This page will continue to be updated as plans are put into place. We appreciate everyone’s patience and understanding. 

Questions and Answers

Degrees and Diplomas

Yes, degrees will be conferred upon the graduates effective May 17, 2020. Many students need degrees to be awarded so they can begin their jobs, or to start graduate school or fellowships. Graduates will be able to indicate their 2020 degree on résumés and other official documents.

Yes, of course. Final grades for seniors are due to the Registrar on May 11, 2020. The Registrar then has to process all the grades, verify completion of all credits and degree requirements, and produce the diplomas. If this was a normal year, this process would be completed for graduates just in time to receive their diplomas on May 17. This year, these processes will take place as quickly as possible, but will still be completed roughly by May 16. With current social distancing guidelines and the disruptions in mail service, mailing of the diplomas after this work by the faculty and the registrar will take some time. The diplomas, however, will be processed and mailed to the graduates as quickly as possible. We know how important it will be for the graduates to receive the degrees that are a mark of all their hard work and accomplishments.

Degree verification request processing for the Class of 2020 will begin on May 18. Requests can be made directly to the Registrar's Office. Transcripts provided after May 17 will include the graduation date of May 17, 2020. See Requesting A Transcript for more information. Students with questions about degree verification or transcript requests should contact the Registrar's Office (315-228-7408,

Yes, and details will be shared as soon as they are available.

Planning Committee

A committee of senior class officers, members of the Konosioni senior honor society, and other class leaders will work with the Commencement Executive Committee to plan the two observances to mark the accomplishments of the Class of 2020. 

May 17, 2020 Virtual Celebration

Details will be shared as soon as they are available.

A virtual Phi Beta Kappa induction ceremony is being planned, and more details will follow. Details on other graduation events will be shared as soon as they are available.

Caps, Gowns, and Regalia

Caps, gowns, and tassels will be mailed directly to graduates from the vendor. Seniors will soon receive an email asking for their size and mailing address. Those who have already completed an order will need to reorder so that it can be mailed directly to them. The deadline for providing information to the vendor in order to get the gown, cap, and tassel is April 24, 2020.

We are working with relevant departments and programs regarding getting cords and stoles. Details will be shared as soon as they are available.

Senior class sweaters will be mailed. Each class member will soon receive an email asking for their size and the mailing address where their sweater should be mailed.

The Stole of Gratitude is a tradition in which students may express their gratitude to a non-Colgate friend or family member for their support throughout their education. Typically, the graduating student will wear this special stole on their shoulders during the commencement ceremony, and then bestow the stole on the person whom they wish to thank following the event. Despite the unique circumstances of 2020, or perhaps in particular recognition of support received during this difficult time, graduating seniors may still wish to use the tradition of the stole of gratitude to say thank you.

Seniors may order a Stole of Gratitude directly from the Colgate Bookstore.

May 22–23, 2021 Celebration

We wanted to pick a time that would allow for the most number of students and their family members to attend. At this time, we cannot be certain that the travel and social distancing rules will be fully lifted by June and July. August presents its own problems. Should the economy and travel be back to normal by August, many graduates will be moving to new cities to start their jobs, while other classmates will be starting graduate school and fellowships. Once the regular school year resumes, we will not have enough rooms to house all graduates and their families. A weekend in May provides a real opportunity for many families to sufficiently plan for a return to campus, with enough rooms to house the graduates and their guests.

We anticipate that the weekend’s events will start late morning on Saturday, May 22, and conclude by midday on Sunday, May 23.

The lighting of the Willow Path for commencement has become a beloved tradition. The Willow Path will be lit for the May 2021 Class of 2020 celebration.

There will be a ceremony that will be designed by the Planning Committee. 

Yes, we are expecting the Torchlight Procession to take place on Saturday night, May 22, 2021.

Yes, for the Torchlight Ceremony, graduates will be given torches that will be theirs to keep.


Yes, University housing will be available to graduates and their families.  We have not yet determined how these rooms will be assigned. Working with Residential Life, this will be a matter for the committee to discuss options.

All existing family housing reservations will be canceled and refunded. Details will be announced in January 2021 about on-campus options housing for May 2021.

Future Commencement Dates 

  • May 16, 2021
  • May 22, 2022
  • May 21, 2023
  • May 19, 2024

Questions? Contact Michele Carney, commencement coordinator:


Colgate maintains archives of photos, video, and speech transcripts from commencement ceremonies dating back five years on the website.